By William W. Johnstone with J. A. Johnstone
Pinnacle, March 2014
Unlike his brothers Jacob, Sam and Patrick, Shawn O’Brien isn’t content to settle down on the family ranch in New Mexico territory. With his razor-sharp eye, lightning-fast draw, and burning thirst for justice, Shawn is carving out a reputation of his own. As a town tamer he takes the most dangerous, lawless towns in the West and makes them safe for decent men, women, and children.
When a stagecoach accident leaves Shawn stranded in Holy Rood, Utah, it doesn’t take long to realize he’s landed in one ornery circle of hell. Ruled by a cruel and cunning crook-turned-merciless dictator named Hank Cobb, Holy Rood is about as unholy place as any on the frontier. Anyone who breaks Cobb’s rules is severely punished. Anyone who defies Cobb’s hooded henchmen dies by rope, stake, or guillotine.
But Shawn O’Brien isn’t just anyone. He’s the town tamer. And this time, he’s going to paint the town red…
This is the first book in another new series from the Johnstone’s. Shawn O’Brien, Town Tamer is a spin-off from the series The Brothers O’Brien.
The stagecoach ride into Holy Rood along a road lined with human skulls sets the mood of this book perfectly. The destruction of the coach sees its occupants thrust into a living hell that painted all sorts of vivid images within my mind. Cobb’s plays on peoples’ fears of witches, and the wrath of God, to spectacular effect for his own greed.
The horrific acts O’Brien witnesses and learns about fuel his resolve to destroy the hold Cobb has over the citizens of Holy Rood and this all means this book is packed full of exciting action which also reveal some strange goings on too, such as how can a dead man be living again?
The author switches between characters often. As well as some excellent male roles there are some terrific female leads too, such as Sally, a girl O’Brien saves from being burned at the stake. Of the male characters I would single out Mink Morrow, a going blind gunfighter, as one of the best. A man who you’re never quite sure whose side he’s going to support, if any.
At the beginning of this book O’Brien isn’t a town tamer but it’s after the violent acts in Holy Rood that he decides this is something he could be good at and this sets up the theme for the coming books in the series, books that I fully intend on reading.