By Rob Hill
Hale, October 2012
At the outbreak of Civil War, regiments stationed along the Oregon Trail are posted back East to fight for the Union. Hastily assembled militia units seize control of the trail forts and wagon trains are left vulnerable to exploitation and attack.
Halted with a broken axle, westbound pioneers Eve Maddison and Wesley Jackson encounter a mysterious frontiersman known simply as ‘Stranger’. They also run up against the vicious Viperine brothers, in charge of a local militia and plotting to extort money from the stranded pioneers.
Stranger insists that everyone is judged by their actions on the trail. His philosophy of courage and self-reliance inspires Eve and Wesley to make a stand against the Viperines – and face up to some difficult truths….
At first this story seems to be the standard tale about standing up to those running a protection racket, but as I read further into the tale it became much more as Eve’s past is slowly revealed and becomes a lethal threat to her and Wesley’s future. How this will be solved proves to be a great hook that kept me turning the pages.
Rob Hill has created a group of strong characters in Eve, Wesley, Stranger and some of the people who work in the fort. The story rotates around Eve and I soon found myself caring about what would happen to her and her companions. How can a small, scar-faced woman stand up to the brutal Viperine’s who think nothing of inflicting pain, framing people for killings, and stealing from the helpless? And once Eve seems to be gaining control more secrets are exposed in an unforeseen, by me, twist that proves to have a deadly sting-in-the-tail.
Judgement Trail is officially released at the end of the month but is available now from the usual Internet bookstores.