By Will Keen
Hale, November 2014
The elderly derelicts in the sleepy Louisiana settlement of La Belle Commune are leading the good life, lazing in the hot sun. Until Bushwhack Jack Breaker rides in from Texas with his outlaw band, and everything changes. Ex-bounty-hunter Paladin awakes to find eccentric marshal, Brad Corrigan, has been forcibly taken, along with saloonist Rik Paulson and storekeeper Alec Mackie – but where, and why? The elegant widow Emma Bowman-Laing knows where, but Paladin and crippled wrangler Shorty Long fail in their rescue bid and Bowman-Laing’s crumbling antebellum mansion goes up in flames.
With rumours of a horde of gold coming across the sea by ketch, and flashy Mexican killer Guillermo Rodriguez brandishing his six-gun, Paladin slips reluctantly into his old bounty-hunting ways. His search for truth and justice takes him deep into Texas, but it is in La Belle Commune that everything is resolved in a bloody fight in the saloon, and brought to a fatal close in the waters of Petit Creek.
Will Keen brings together an excellent cast of characters whose personalities grab your attention as strongly as the terrific twisting plotline. At no time is it obvious how this fast moving tale will develop and who will be alive at its conclusion.
The story outline might seem to leave nothing out but believe me it doesn’t hint at the double-crosses and motivations that leave one person in unsuspected grave danger and the frantic race to save them and the hard-hitting ending this leads to.
Will Keen is a pseudonym used by John Paxton Sheriff and I’ve always found his stories to be hard-to-put-down reads with well thought out plots that are never predictable, and this book enforces that statement. If you’ve never tried his work then this is certainly a worthy place to start.