Deputy U.S. Marshal Reilly McGilvern is hauling criminals to Yuma when his prison wagon is attacked. Three guards die violently in a hail of gunfire and McGilvern is left locked inside to die. When another outlaw gang comes upon the scene, Reilly McGilvern thinks he’s lived to see another day . . . but his problems are just beginning.
Bloody Jim Pardo wants to avenge the Civil War – and to steal the kind of weapons that will let him do it. Riding with his mother, his trusted killers and two hostages, Pardo thinks McGilvern is a fearsome criminal. Now, to stop Jim Pardo’s bloody madness, McGilvern needs to play his part perfectly. And when the time comes, make every shot a killing shot . . .
Johnny D. Boggs has created a wonderful set of characters for this all-action tale. Pardo, his mother and other members of his gang. Pardo’s hostages, especially ten-year-old Blanche, who at times provides some comic relief and McGilvern. Boggs certainly doesn’t believe in giving his lead character an easy time of it. Once rescued by Pardo, McGilvern’s nerves are stretched taught as he plots to free himself and the hostages. At anytime he, and the reader, expect his cover to blown and there are many instances when I was thinking this is it, this is when Pardo finds out who he really is. This makes for a lot of tense scenes and when they are added to the threat of death in the many exchanges of gunplay, a train robbery that goes wrong, an Apache attack, freeing an imprisoned explosive expert from an unusual prison, transporting nitro-glycerine over very uneven ground, and more, everything combines to make for a gripping read.
Boggs also includes a rifle that I haven’t come across very often, the Evans. This is McGilvern’s gun and it causes its own problems for the marshal, in that it is unreliable and ammunition is hard to find. Will it let him down at the wrong moment?
With all the twists and turns this story takes, I just couldn’t predict how it would end and who would be left alive, if anyone, when I reached the final page. What I do know is that I want to read another book by Johnny D. Boggs as soon as I can.