by John Nesbitt
A Black Horse Western from Hale, October 2010
Originally published 1995
When Clay Westbrook, a cowhand on a Wyoming ranch in the 1890s, sticks up for a Mexican sheepherder, he runs into serious trouble.
But Clay maintains his friendship with the Mexicans, much to the dislike of the bullying rancher Sutton and his gang of thugs. He even develops an ill-advised romantic interest in Tony’s Niece, Guadalupe.
Before long, Clay finds himself without a job and is harassed by Sutton and his men, who burn down his homesteader’s shack and sabotage his outfitting camp. Clay then discovers that Sutton has designs on his homestead and plans to cut a ditch project across his land. It is up to Clay to thwart Sutton … but can he do so in time?
Due to this being a reprint of a paperback novel this Black Horse Western is a much longer read than you’d expect from this line of western books. It contains the same number of pages but has much smaller print and more lines per page. Chapters start a few lines down from the previous chapter end rather than on a new page.
Twin Rivers doesn’t contain as much fighting action as a lot of BHW, and much of what there is done with fists, all well described and very visual. The story is more a study of character, again superbly crafted. John Nesbitt combines a land-grab story and a love story. The latter having an affect on how Westbrook decides to react to Sutton’s attempts to push him off his homestead, that lead to some tense confrontations, one that takes a dramatic turn as Westbrook races to save the life of one of his tormentors who’s been swept away in a river.
The pace of the book is excellent, as Westbrook becomes increasing anxious as to how he will deal with Sutton, and to whether he should carry on with his courting as he’s white and she’s Mexican and he’s concerned as to how others will react to a mixed relationship.
John Nesbitt also includes a lot of information about life during the time period he sets the book in, such as tasks carried out by cowboys, the background to ditch projects, and courting. This all comes over as a natural part of the storyline when it could so easily have come over as an author sounding like a teacher, resulting in parts of the book that many would quickly skip through.
I have read other books by John Nesbitt, and more sit on my shelves and I can see myself picking another up very soon.
This book is available now and selling out quickly.