Sunday 5 August 2012

Stuart Brannon's Final Shot

By the Bly family
Greenbrier Books, March 2012

In 1905, at 58 years old, legendary lawman Stuart Brannon – now a rancher and widower – had no intention of leaving his beloved Arizona Territory to attend the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland, Oregon.

Then the telegram came: Stuart, I need you in Portland. Tim Wiseman is missing. I think there’s a cover-up going on. Tell folks you’re going to the Exposition. Nose around. Find out how a U.S. Marshal can disappear and no one knows why. I’ll contact you there. T.R.

No way could Stuart Brannon refuse a personal request from Teddy Roosevelt!

This book was started by Stephen Bly, an author with more than 105 novels and non-fiction books to his name, of which a number of them were co-written with his wife, Janet. Sadly Stephen passed away in 2011. Janet, and their sons Russell, Michael, and Aaron completed the book hence their names appearing beneath Stephen’s on the cover.

The story also brings a close to the Stuart Brannon series. The first book Hard Winter at Broken Arrow appeared in 1991. Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot is the seventh in the series.

The story is very much character driven, many of whom Brannon comes into contact with here he seems to have met in some of the earlier novels but it isn’t essential to have read them before this one as just enough information is given to explain how they know each other. There are also many foreign characters, all fuelling the thought that some International conspiracy may be behind the disappearance of Tim Wiseman.

Humour plays an important part too. Brannon is asked to compete in a charity golf tournament, something he tries his best to get out of, and his first attempt at the game results in some erratic shots to say the least. Brannon also has trouble with an out of control horse and a chandelier-swinging lady who has a passion for llamas.

The story is as much a detective novel as a western, and as the bodies mount up, Brannon seems at a loss as to just what is going on and why. Slowly pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place and I can’t really reveal any more than that without giving anything away, but I will add that a dead whale on the beach might have something to do with it, or not…

Stuart Brannon is a very likeable hero and this story has left me eager to read his earlier adventures and to try other Stephen Bly novels.

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