Thursday 23 August 2012

Devil's Creek Massacre

By Jack Bodine
Harper, March 1994

Cutthroat Comancheros, wandering banditos, the Mexican Army, the Fourth Cavalry – and Miss Vanessa Fontaine – all want Duane Braddock, who has the fastest gun in the West and much more than a price on his head. But it is the Apaches who leave him for dead in the Coahuilian Desert.

Found by a ragtag outlaw band led by an ex-Confederate soldier, Braddock is brought back to the land of the living. By the time he is well enough to run, a greedy plan to seize half-a-million dollars of Army payroll is in place. The dynamite is set, the fuse is lit, and the Pecos Kid has his pick: kill or die.

The book begins moments before Braddock finds himself fighting for his life against a small band of Apaches in a gripping scene that leaves the Pecos Kid barely alive. A good portion of the story then deals with Braddock’s recovery. During this time Jack Bodine introduces his cast of excellent characters, such as outlaw leader Captain Cochrane and his woman Juanita Torregrosa, Dr. Montgomery and the crazy killer Johnny Pinto, all of who will cause problems for Braddock as the tale evolves.

Jack Bodine switches between characters chapter by chapter, following all their thoughts and schemes. By far the largest number of chapters not about Duane Braddock continue the story of Vanessa Fontaine – Duanne and Vanessa had been lovers (see previous books). Newly widowed Vanessa now searches for happiness but still can’t get Duane out of her mind so she sets out to find The Pecos Kid, her trail putting her into all kinds of dangerous situations.

Braddock must struggle to keep true to his beliefs and tries to get out of having to take part in the payroll robbery. He also has his hands full of trouble in the form of Johnny Pinto, this madman forcing Braddock into an extremely well written duel.

Does Vanessa find The Pecos Kid? Does Braddock manage to avoid being part of the robbery? Does he get away from the outlaws? All I will say is the book gallops forward to its brutal final showdown that sees a few loose threads left dangling so they can be continued in the next book in the series. A book I shall be reading very soon. 

Jack Bodine is a pseudonym used by Len Levinson, and he’s recently put all the Pecos Kid books out as ebooks under his own name, along with his other excellent western series The Apache Wars Saga that were originally published as by Frank Burleson.


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