By William W. Johnstone with J.A. Johnstone
Pinnacle, April 2015
In Tennessee, 17-year-old Breckinridge Wallace knew the laws of nature. When his life was in danger, he showed a fearless instinct to fight back. Killing a thug who was sent to kill him got Breckinridge exiled from his Smoky Mountain home. Brutally wounding an Indian attacker earned him an enemy for life… Now, from the bustling streets of St. Louis to the vast stillness of the Missouri headwaters, Breckinridge is discovering a new world of splendour, violence, promise and betrayal. Most off all, he is clawing his way to manhood behind the law of the gun. Because the trouble he left in Tennessee won’t let him go. A killer stalks his every move. And by the time he joins a dangerous expedition, Breckinridge has only had a small taste of the blood, horror and violence he must face next – to make his way to a new frontier…
This is the first in a series launched under the William W. Johnstone with J.A. Johnstone brand. Currently there are four in The Frontiersman series, with a fifth announced for release in 2019.
Like in any opening book to a series we are introduced to Breckinridge and his family and the relationships between them. We also witness Breckinridge’s impressive strengths and ability to fight as the opening scenes describe a bloody battle between him and some Chickasaw braves. Breckinridge’s belief that he’ll marry Maureen Grantham is important to the plot too, and it’s the latter that leads to events that see Breckinridge go on the run.
The plot thread of Breckinridge being wanted links each new adventure he finds himself having as he teams up with various parties in his bid to reach the Rocky Mountains. It’s these encounters that will see Breckinridge’s resolve tested time and again in a series of deadly and violent situations.
The author tells this very fast-moving tale in gripping prose that kept me turning the pages. Characters are well-crafted and each has an important part to play in the storyline and the writer is not afraid to kill them off to add to the suffering Breckinridge must endure. Action scenes – and there’s plenty of them – are extremely well-written, brutally desperate struggles for life that are very visual.
As the story races to its end, it becomes obvious not all the plot threads are going to be tied-up thus ensuring the reader will pick up the next book in the series and that is something I will certainly be doing very soon.
A book that should appeal to all western readers, especially those who enjoy mountain men tales.