By Ron Honthaner
Mountain-man Mike McCloskey, a run-away slave Thaddeus, and a young orphan Jericho, lives cross paths and they become lifelong friends. As time passes Jericho becomes a sheriff, Thaddeus moves into town, but Mike continues to live and trap with his Indian wife and daughter in the mountains even though the days are numbered for his kind of life.
When Mike heads into town to purchase supplies, he defends an Indian friend’s life from outlaw cowboys and sets in motion a collision of mishaps—a single mistake changes his life and the lives of friends and enemies alike.
Ron Honthaner is a film and TV veteran whose first script for Gunsmoke landed him a job on the series, going on to write other scripts for the show, then working as post production supervisor and later, associate producer. He was the recipient of two Cowboy Hall of Fame awards for his work on the Gunsmoke producing team.
The first half of this fast moving tale includes many flash-back sequences to explain the relationship between the three main characters, although much of the emphasis is on McCloskey’s life working on flat-boats and steamboats. Most of the books other characters have their backstories explained too as a group of very different people find themselves riding in a posse.
Once McCloskey becomes the target of the posse after a bloody and vicious rage driven rampage then the emotional side of hunting a friend becomes a major issue of the story and you can never be sure which way the tale will go next when it comes to who will kill who if the opportunity arises and how much the bond of friendship will dictate the state of play.
Honthaner’s writing is a pure joy to read and his background in writing for TV is very evident in how easily this story paints visual imagery in the mind-eye. Character development is excellent and the action scenes brutal and graphic. What happens to McCloskey to make him go on a killing spree comes as a complete surprise. After that the story is a straight chase tale that may not end how you think it will.
If anymore westerns by Ron Honthaner are published you can be certain I’ll be reading them.