By Peter Brandvold
Mean Pete Press, August 2012
Originally published by Berkley, February 2003
Sheriff Ben Stillman knows that every lawman could face sudden death. But that doesn’t ease his anger over Marshal Boomhauer’s brutal murder. And old Charlie’s shoes have already been filled by his brash, young deputy – who isn’t exactly out shaking the bushes to find the killers.
The new marshal is blaming the murder on a band of gypsies who moved north – or was it south? It’s becoming clear that the town of Lone Pine has something to hide – and that Stillman is outside his jurisdiction. But the lawman’s code says that you take care of your own. So Ben isn’t going home until he’s served up some justice – whether it’s by the rules or not.
In this, the sixth Sheriff Stillman novel, Peter Brandvold takes his hero away from his hometown and his wife and drops him into the middle of a mysterious killing that no-one wants Stillman to solve, which, of course, makes Stillman all the more determined to do so. But this isn’t the only problem Stillman has to struggle with, there’s Nell, a woman who’s attractiveness is tempting – could Stillman succumb and be unfaithful to his wife?
The story is packed with action, including murder, gunfights, ambush, and being trapped in a cave. Then there’s the secrets, the reason Marshal Boomhauer was killed, that lead to a shocking answer, that, when discovered by Stillman only makes him want to see justice done all the more.
Once Upon a Dead Man proved to be a gripping read, so much so that I read it in one sitting, and found myself reaching for the next Stillman book immediately. This is definitely a book not to be missed by any fan of the western genre.