By Chuck Tyrell
Western Trail Blazer, October 2012
Ness Havelock rode the Outlaw Trail, partly because he was a loner and partly because he was running away from Rita Pilar. But now an old friend called for help, and Havelock could not refuse. When he got to Saint Johns, the Pitchfork Outfit was getting ready to take over the town, the county, and the state – if Judge Harlow Wilson got his way.
Wilson courted Rita Pilar. He bragged about 50,000 head of cattle on the way up from Texas. He bilked immigrants. And he dealt out his own brand of justice ... with a quirt and a bullwhip. He was unstoppable, until Ness Havelock rode in to Saint Johns.
Ruel Gatlin wanted Havelock dead for killing his brothers, never mind it was three against one. He followed Havelock out of Colorado, across the bridge at Mexican Hat, through Canyon de Chelly, and into the high country of the Great Colorado Plateau.
Then Harlow Wilson offered to pay for what Gatlin wanted anyway: Kill Ness Havelock.
Chuck Tyrell takes an unusual approach to his writing of this novel switching from first person, his hero’s view, and third person for everyone else. He does keep this to a chapter by chapter layout though as mixing both points of view per chapter it would become very confusing for the reader I think.
Ness Havelock may be the hero but the most interesting character for me has to be Ruel Gatlin as I found how his view of Havelock changed as he discovered just what drove the man he intended to kill fascinating.
Judge Harlow Wilson is definitely a bad guy that needs bringing to justice. He’s a man who has a passion for whipping those unfortunate to displease him, particularly young boys. It’s the death of one of these youngsters that gets Havelock involved in bringing Wilson down.
Chuck Tyrell (Charles T. Whipple) also includes a number of real life characters, such as Commodore Perry Owens.
Lots of action, great descriptions of the unforgiving countryside including the flora and fauna, there’s also a struggle to accept love, and the time honoured western theme of revenge. This all adds up to a well told tale that’s worth reading.
If any of you think this book sounds familiar then you may have read it in its abridged form as it was first published by Hale in their Black Horse Western range as Trail of a Hard Man in 2006.