By Peter Brandvold
Mean Pete Press, January 2014
When Sheriff Ben Stillman’s deputy and best friend, Leon McMannigle, shoots a young woman who was about to shoot Stillman in the back, Leon takes the outlaw girl’s lifeless body back to her mountain ranch to turn her over to her family. He feels the need to explain himself, to personally account for the girl’s death.
His explanation falls on deaf ears. Old Watt Hollister sends his wild sons led by his eldest boy, Nash, out on the trail to exact revenge for their poor dead sister. Wounded, McMannigle is alone and on the run in the Two-Bear Mountains, hunted like a calf-killing mountain lion.
Ben Stillman isn’t at all happy when he gets wind of his friend’s fate. In fact, when you mess with Stillman’s friends or his family, it’s damn well guaranteed you have all-out war on your hands.
Meanwhile, back in Clantick, the pretty, young waitress over at Sam Wa’s Café, Evelyn Vincent, is smitten by a dangerous drifter . . .
It’s been eight years since the last Ben Stllman book and now he makes a welcome return in Stillman’s War.
Peter Brandvold switches from character to character regularly as various situations turn deadly for all concerned. After the opening scenes Stillman isn’t in the book that much as we witness McMannigle’s desperate struggle to stay alive which leads to him being hidden in a very dangerous place. Later, Stillman will take a more central role.
Evelyn Vincent is a confused woman when it comes to affairs of the heart and this could lead to her downfall. Peter Brandvold sure doesn’t believe in make life easy for his well-drawn characters.
Stillman’s temper is nearing boiling point as he tries to be in more than one place at a time forcing him to appoint a stand-in deputy, and a surprising and interesting choice he makes which leads to an excellent final showdown of nerve and courage.
Stillman’s War is a story packed full of action and tough characters. In those brief moments where there isn’t any gunplay Peter Brandvold masterfully piles on the tension defying the reader to stop turning the pages.
I can only finish my thoughts on this terrific tale by saying let’s hope Peter doesn’t make us wait a further eight years for another Ben Stillman book.