Sunday 28 October 2012


By Gary Paulsen
Pocket Books, February 1988

Al Murphy was the law in a boom town gone bust, all that stood in the way of chaos on the dusty streets of Cincherville, Colorado. He’d made peace – at a price – with the rowdy drunks, the hard-case gamblers, the tapped-out miners still looking for gold. Then a 12-year-old girl was found raped and murdered in the town’s livery stable.

Grimly Murphy searched for evidence, looking into the eyes of people he knew – or thought he knew – stalking a killer in a town gripped by terror. A killer who struck without mercy, without warning, driven by a lust for power and gold. A cold-blooded murderer who piled death upon death, trying to cover his tracks, until Murphy ran him to the ground….

This is the first book in a short series and a memorable opening story it is. Filled with powerful writing that combines suspense, pain and the small rewards of justice, Gary Paulsen effortlessly keeps the reader turning the pages in the quest to discover who the killer is.

With savage acts of violence and the discoveries of new corpses, Murphy has his mettle tested to the limit. He finds small clues but cannot see how they fit together, finds himself sickened by the brutal acts he witnesses, and questions his ability as a lawman.

Gary Paulsen neatly includes mention of the new methods of fingerprinting; a technique Murphy finds hard to believe could possibly work.

A fair amount of this book reads like a dark detective novel but it never loses its western spirit; at no time will the reader forget he’s reading a western.

Tough, brutal, fast moving and gripping are words that easily spring to mind when describing this book. On finishing this story I was left wanting to immediately read the second book in the series to find out what happens next to those who were left alive.


Oscar Case said...

Sounds pretty bloody, like I like 'em.

larry gebert said...

On order and this series sounds good. Thanks steve.