Wednesday 17 June 2015

Once More into the Breech

By Peter Brandvold
Five Star Publishing, May 2015

When Doctor Clyde Evans is kidnapped from his home in the middle of the night to tend a wounded outlaw, Sheriff Ben Stillman’s problems are only just beginning. Stillman tracks the doctor to a remote cabin deep in the Two Bear Mountains. He springs the doctor, shoots the outlaws, and confiscates the bank loot. He also arrests a beautiful young outlaw, Hettie Styles, who promptly puts a bounty on Stillman’s head. Compounding his problems, his old foe Jacob Henry Battles rides into town with a steel hook replacing the arm Stillman shot off years ago before sending Battles to prison. 

Dying from consumption, Battles was recently let out of Deer Lodge Pen. He says he’s in town merely to settle down, but after a shot is fired into Stillman’s house in the middle of the night, the sheriff thinks Battles is out for revenge. 

Meanwhile, Doc Evans must navigate more personal torments when young Evelyn Vincent, the waitress from Sam Wa’s CafĂ©, professes her love for the older sawbones only weeks before Evans is due to be married to the Widow Kemmett! 

In this, the 10th book in the Sheriff Ben Stillman series a long occurring problem really takes a grip making this a must read for fans of the Stillman stories.

For all the deadly dangers Stillman faces in this violent tale it’s something he is powerless to control that could be his downfall. The bullet in his back is causing him to stiffen up, near paralysing him. How can he protect his family, let alone continue being a lawman if he ends up in a wheelchair? Peter Brandvold comes up with some powerful storytelling as he writes about Stillman’s fears of what the future may hold for him.

Doc Evans’ women problems are a major part of this tale as the Stillman books are about the people of Clantick too, and this makes for a neat subplot and will have you wondering who he will choose.

Peter Brandvold has always been very good at creating terrific characters and this one is filled with them; Battles, a dying man who says he isn’t after revenge: Miller, who’s trying to engineer the ultimate gunfight between Stillman and Battles: Hettie, female outlaw who seems to be able to wrap men around her little finger and is out to double-cross her gang, to name but a few.

The story is packed with bloody action that is quite savage at times and also contains some explicit sex. There’s mystery too, such as who is taking sniping shots at the Stillman home. All overshadowed by the fear I’ve already mentioned that Stillman may not be capable of protecting his friends and family when the time comes which makes for some edge-of-the-seat moments before the final tension filled confrontation.

Here’s hoping Peter doesn’t make us wait too long before we get to find out what he has in store for Sheriff Ben Stillman next.

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