Tuesday 9 October 2012

The Last Lawman

By Peter Brandvold
Berkley, October 2012

Deputy United States Marshal Spurr Morgan may be an old dog in the business of tracking down desperadoes, but where his body fails him, his instincts remain unmatched. Spurr has his sights set on Clell Stanhope, the notorious leader of a gang called the Vultures. Not only has Clell managed to dodge the law, but he’s littered his trail with dozens of innocent men, women, and children…

Spurr Morgan has met his fair share of murderers, but this Vulture is the most brutally clever of the breed. Tracking him down requires as much cunning as it does hot lead. After Clell lures every last tin star into his bloody trap, Spurr thinks he may be the last man standing. That is, until a half-breed by the name of Yakima Henry offers his services…

Fans of Peter Brandvold will have already met Spurr Morgan a couple of times, in both books written under his own name and his pseudonym of Frank Leslie. Now Spurr gets his own series and let me quickly point out you don’t need to have read those previous books to fully enjoy this one, as Peter gives you all the background you need on Spurr’s history and fleshes this out with more of the aging lawman’s back-story.

Part of the charm of Spurr is that he is older than most western heroes. His mind says yes but his body says no, and it’s not just aching joints that he has to deal with as his heart is warning him regularly that it’s not going to keep working much longer…

This book is peopled with a terrific set of characters, Clell Stanhope being particularly memorable due to his tattoos (I’ll leave you to discover what they are). There’s also Erin Wilde, a woman driven to insanity, and, of course, there’s Yakima Henry who rides off the pages of his own series to provide some much needed help.

Peter Brandvold writes gritty, hard hitting prose that paints brutal visual imagery in the mind as his story moves quickly from one violent gunfight to the next that leave virtually no one unscarred, bringing Spurr to reflect, “life was a cold-eyed bitch at times, but it had to be lived.”


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