By Paul Bedford
Crowood Press, February 2017
John Taggart and Jacob Stuckey are Civil War veterans who operate a ferry on the mighty Arkansas River. When two drifters pick on Jacob, Taggart ruthlessly disarms them and sends them on their way vowing revenge. But there is more trouble to come. Russ Decker and his gang steal a fortune in gold ‘Double Eagles’ from a bank in Wichita. Their escape route into the Indian Territories takes them by way of the ferry crossing. With a posse of Pinkerton Agents on their trail, he decides to stop the pursuit by putting John and Jacob out of business…permanently.
Unknown to Decker and his men, a Deputy US Marshal also has his sights on them, but the lawman first has to deliver a particularly unpleasant prisoner to Fort Smith. In addition to all of this, fate decrees that a keelboat full of stolen silver ore will arrive at Taggart’s Crossing just at the right moment to create maximum havoc.
This is Paul Bedford’s eleventh Black Horse Western and what a superb read it is, further strengthening my belief that he is one of the best writers producing books for the BHW line today, perhaps ever.
The story is told at break-neck speed, switching between the many characters regularly as they all converge on the ferry crossing for a showdown between multi-sides none of whom have much of an idea as to the identity of anyone else or why they are shooting at each other.
One thing that quickly becomes apparent is that there is no guarantee as to who will be left alive at the end, if anyone.
Packed with how are they going to get out of that situations, vivid descriptions of both scenes and action – the latter of which is quite brutal at times and should satisfy the most bloodthirsty of readers – this book should be on every western fans to read list.
After finishing this book I’m already eagerly looking forward to Paul Bedford’s next book, A Hell of a Place to Die which is due out in May.