By Daniel C. Chamberlain
Solstice Publishing, June 2011
In the grinding death mill of the trenches of Petersburg, Virginia, in the closing days of the Civil War, a Union sharpshooter – a “long-shooter” named Ballou – emerges as the best sniper in a war where wholesale slaughter became the norm. Ballou perfected the art of the judicious killer. His ability with his cherished Stephens target rifle is legendary, making a nearly miraculous shot that no one else – North or South – could accomplish. After the war, he disappears…
Samuel Roark is a small-time rancher and part-time lawyer. One personal tragedy after another leaves Samuel gripped by periodic bouts of depression. When a hidden marksman of uncommon skill murders his son, the death leaves Samuel on the brink of total madness.
Roark’s wife Sarah, a woman of strength, grace and startling beauty is now both emotionally and physically exhausted by the tragic circumstances that have beset her family. After discovering her husband’s quest for revenge, she does everything in her power to prevent what she fears will ultimately destroy him.
Matthew Shaw is a known manhunter and soldier of fortune that people call on when they’re willing to pay someone else to deal with obstacles in their lives. When required, Shaw reluctantly uses his considerable marksmanship to achieve those ends. Now Shaw finds himself caught between a job he truly believes in, and a very good reason to walk away when he realizes he’s falling in love with Sarah, the wife of the man who hired him.
Daniel C. Chamberlain has come up with a superb western murder mystery in The Long Shooters. Each of his characters are fascinating and I was soon wondering just who the hidden marksman was, and who hired him and why. Yes, I had my ideas but soon discovered that Chamberlain is a master of misdirection and he regularly blew most of my theories out of the water.
Gunfights and killings are hard-hitting but the savagery of these acts is balanced by the developing attractions Shaw and Sarah are beginning to feel for each other. Whilst hunting for clues Shaw also starts to mistrust Roark as the corpses begin to pile up every time Roark is out on his own.
The final sniping showdown between Shaw and the marksman makes for tense reading that in turn leads to some unforeseen revelations as to who hired the killer and why.
For those who are interested in guns, this book is definitely a must read. Chamberlain includes loads of facts about most of the guns that are used in this story. None of his explanations come across as technical essays but rather as a natural part of the storyline. The early use of the Stephens rifle is beautifully told and grabbed my interest easily. But it’s not just those with an interest in guns that will enjoy this book, as I believe anyone who enjoys fast paced westerns will do so too. I know I’m looking forward to Daniel C. Chamberlain’s next.
The Long Shooters is available as a paper book, ebook and audio download.