THE DERBY MAN #6
By Gary McCarthy
Bantam, June 1981
The thundering engines of the Central Pacific are stalled in the quest to conquer the mighty Sierras. Only a mountain of a man, Darby Buckingham, could pound the railroad through the granite walls of trouble. Atop sheer rock cliffs just a death plunge away from the surging river a thousand feet below, braving punishing cold, Darby must lay down track foot by hard-blasted foot – with a construction crew that is threatening to tear itself apart with vicious fighting. But as they climb towards the notorious Donner Pass they face the most brutal challenge – an avalanche of sabotage and murder that could even crush the Derby Man.
Gary McCarthy perfectly blends historical fact with fiction to allow his hero, Darby Buckingham, to take part in, and witness, true events that shaped America.
The opening of the book sees Darby’s long-time girlfriend, Dolly Beavers, trying to get him to propose to her, and once again this is interrupted as her intendeds' presence is required elsewhere. It isn’t long after Darby sets out on his mission that attempts are made on his life.
As in the previous books in the series, Gary McCarthy mixes exciting action with comical situations, but, for me, it was the struggle to get the track down and beat the time limits that kept me enthralled. Even though I already knew some of the problems that faced the Central Pacific I found McCarthy breathed fresh life into this story and so kept me eager to keep reading.
The finish of the tale concludes the major storylines well but leaves a couple of threads hanging to be continued in the next book, one that I will be reading very soon.
The Derby Man series, for me, ranks right up there with the very best western series.