A Ralph Compton Novel by Marcus Galloway
Signet, June 2013
Outlaw Wes Cavanaugh knows that crime doesn’t always pay – at least not that much. That’s why he and his partner, Mose, are willing to buy information from Jimmy Stock on a job that’s guaranteed to pay off big.
Jimmy’s made a career of selling tips to bandits, but the job he sells Wes – a payroll train about to leave Omaha – requires more than information. It requires a straight shooter who can hit targets from a long distance away…and in the outlaw business, even a straight shooter can’t be trusted.
With the passing of Ralph Compton, Signet decided to keep his name alive by continuing to put out books under his name written by other writers, eleven of them I believe. Signet also decided to print the name of the real authors on the books too making it easy for readers to identify who had written each new book. Marcus Galloway’s name appearing on ten of them, placing him only behind David Robbins and Joseph A. West in numbers of books written under the Ralph Compton brand.
The above blurb is perhaps a little mis-leading as to the contents of this book. Sure, Wes and Mose buy information from Stock but this takes up only a short part of the novel, as does the train robbery. Wes and Mose don’t have enough money to give to Stock so steal it from a traveling gunsmith. Most of the story follows the fortunes of said gunsmith, Zeke Hayes and his helper, ex-boxer, Aldus Bricker. The central character is Aldus, and it’s his need to discover why the tone of the letters he gets from his childhood sweetheart, Bethany, has changed, that sees them cross paths once again with Wes and Mose.
During the journey to Bethany’s hometown, Zeke and Aldus find themselves in a deadly fight for control of a town and this is resolved in an exciting battle that is one of the highlights of the book.
There’s also a neat outcome to the train robbery that brings that part of the story to an almost underplayed and perfect ending.
I’ve only read a handful of Marcus Galloways’ westerns and so far I’ve enjoyed them all. They haven’t contained quite as much gunplay as a lot of the books I read, but that isn’t a criticism as Galloway certainly knows how to grab the readers attention and build his plots in gripping prose that makes you want to keep reading.