By Billy Hall
Hale, July 2015
He could see the tip of the hat brim in the doorway of the balcony across the street. Just over the top of the ridge of the mercantile store’s roof, he caught a glimpse of another hat. That meant at least two men were waiting to kill him in cold blood.
Ike Murdo knows that awaiting him upon his arrival are several people who want him dead. The risks were clear when he chose to interfere with the gang’s plans. He’d had no choice: when the son of the woman he loved was kidnapped, Ike followed his heart.
Now, he must pay the price and confront the gunmen.
He swallowed his fear and called out to the gunfighter. ‘Cadwall! Come out and face me.’
Billy Hall begins his story in an almost gentle fashion as we witness Murdo search for and secure a job that sees him doubling as a cowboy and a farmhand. It’s the latter that provides some fascinating reading as Murdo gets to grips with new methods of ploughing and Hall’s descriptions of this put you right there to witness Murdo’s determination to master these new techniques.
During this time Murdo finds himself become more and more attracted to the ranch’s owner and he bonds with her children. But all the time Hall allows the threat of danger to simmer below the surface and throws a few questions into the mix, such as why Murdo doesn’t carry a belt gun.
Later Murdo sends a telegraph when danger threatens, but who to? Neither characters nor readers are let in on this secret which adds a touch of mystery to the storyline and this turns out to be a great surprise when the author reveals the answer.
As well as fistfights and gunfights there are some excellent confrontations in a court of law that should see off any threat of danger but, of course, they just make things worse and lead to the kidnapping mentioned in the blurb.
The rescue attempt gives birth to a legend which put a huge grin on my face and brings the book to an excellent ending that left me eager to read more of Billy Hall’s work.
Sadly, it has recently been reported that Bill Hallsted (Billy Hall’s full name) passed away in May 2015, so I would like to take this opportunity to offer my condolences to his family and friends and to let them know that for me, and his many fans, Bill will live on in the words of the many westerns he wrote and will continue to bring us pleasure for a long, long time to come.