By Hank J. Kirby
Hale, May 2015
Mitchell Slade, a top US Marshal, is sent to clean up the New Mexico town of Hatfield. Within a few minutes of his arrival, four men lie dead under a shroud of smoke, and this sets the tone for Slade’s stay.
It isn’t long before the man who killed Slade’s family, Brazos McGraw, shows up in town. The streets of Hatfield are ready to run red with blood unless Slade can stop his old enemy’s reign of terror. And to do this will cost him much more than he is prepared to pay.
There are lots of surprises waiting in store for the reader as the truths about Slade and McGraw’s past come to light. This is not the only twist though, for one of the four men Slade kills on arriving in Hatfield is the towns’ Sheriff. Seems this lawman helped outlaws escape justice for a hefty sum of cash. Why? Was he as crooked as they are? Obviously I can’t answer that here, but will add that the Sheriff’s daughter is soon gunning for Slade.
When we first meet Slade he comes across as a brutal no-nonsense man who justifies his actions by saying he can do what he likes because he is the law! Something that rubs up many of Hatfield’s citizens the wrong way. As the story develops we see through this mask and Slade’s true motivations are revealed and these become more complicated by the dead Sheriff’s daughter, an attraction to each other neither can deny even though she wants him gone, preferably dead.
Regular readers of WFR will already know that Hank J. Kirby is a pseudonym used by a favourite author of mine, Keith Hetherington, a writer with hundreds of western books published under a variety of pen-names. Like many of his books this one starts with a bang and then gallops forward at an ever increasing pace offering the reader great dialogue, tough characters of both sexes, and plenty of pulse-pounding action before a final race against time that seems impossible for Slade to win.
If you’ve never read any of Keith Hetherington’s books then this one is a great way to introduce yourself to his work.