When ex-Confederate officer Clay Chandler applied for the sheriff job in Topaz, Arizona, the average lifespan for the position was three weeks tops. It got a little shorter when Clay arrested one of the notorious Hopkins brothers for killing a black man.
Ringleader Wes Hopkins gave Clay twenty-four hours to release his brother Vance – or else. Hell got a little hotter when Clay found out that Hopkins had the judge and the mayor under his thumb, and everyone else too scared to do anything but hide.
Until, that is, freed slave Essex Johnson showed up looking to be deputy. An ex-slave and an ex-reb wouldn’t seem to have a lot in common – but if they didn’t survive the next bloody, bullet-ridden five days together, it wouldn’t much matter….
The new lawman up against a powerful criminal who has the town council, and townsfolk too scared to do anything but what he says is an often-used plot in westerns. It’s a classic one man against many story that I never tire of. Here though, author Robert W. Broomall adds spice by bringing in a black deputy, a man no-one in town can respect, and neither does the sheriff.
Both lawmen have some very derogatory views of each other and I’m not sure some of the terms used would be included in books published today as many people will find them offensive. These racist comments make it hard to like either lawman, but do reflect people’s thoughts of the time period the book is set in I’d imagine.
The book is extremely well paced with plenty of fast-and-furious action, including a bloody fist-fight between the two lawmen. Packed with tense scenes, such as when the lawmen get out of town taking their prisoner with them and the time running out to Wes Hopkins’ deadline.
The author also includes a number of plot twists, some of which took me by surprise and they added to my enjoyment of the book. The tale concludes with a vicious bloody shootout and finishes with a humorous comment.
One word of warning though, don’t read the taster page of content included at the beginning of the book as it’s too much of a spoiler for something that happen towards the end of the book. Why publishers aren’t a little more selective in their choice for what they use for these sample pages is beyond me.
This is only the second book I’ve read by Robert Broomall, and it’s made me wonder why I don’t read his work more often.