Thursday 3 October 2013

Sipping Whiskey in a Shallow Grave

By Mark Mitten
Sunbury Press Inc., November 2012

It is 1887. Snow is falling in the high country of Colorado. Bill Ewing led a bank heist in the small mountain town of Kinsey City — but just woke up tied to the back of a mule. Bill Ewing’s gang of thieves are tracked by the posse that takes after them, cowhands of the B-Cross-C. 

Following the Great Die-Up, the harshest winter to ever hit the West, LG Pendleton and Casey Pruitt lead a mixed herd of Polangus and Durham cattle down the stage road in Lefthand Canyon. Their way of life is fading with the changing times. Fences cross what once was open range, locomotives are eliminating the trail drive, and both Casey and LG must learn to change with it — or fade away themselves.

Virtually every chapter of Mark Mitten’s story switches to another of the many characters whose seemingly unconnected lives are about to come together in violence. A stage robbery that will have some kind of effect on all those who are there, and some who are not, the outcome of which sees each and every one of their lives taking a turn for the better or worse through hope, fortune, love, despair, loss, and, for some, death.

A lot of the tale tells of everyday life, the hardships and joys, the strengths and weakness’ of the human spirit. Mark Mitten doesn’t present the reader with a hero figure, none of his many characters take centre stage, all are given equal story time, which makes it hard to predict the outcome for any of them.

To help the reader keep track of his large cast Mitten includes a who’s who list at the beginning of each of the three parts of his book. Even with this you will need to concentrate to remember who rides for who, who works for the law and who’s an outlaw.

On the strengths of this book, I’d say that Mark Mitten is an author worth keeping an eye on.


Jo Walpole said...

Fab title. :)

Unknown said...

Thanks Steve. Being featured on the Western Fiction Review is an honor.