Friday 23 December 2011

Showdown in Jeopardy

By John Davage
Hale, December 2011

In the depths of a winter’s night, a train is sent off its tracks near Cutler’s Pass and raided for the $80,000 gold shipment it’s carrying. Just after midnight, five years later in the town of Jeopardy, ex-Bostonian Clyde Pascoe is puzzling over the anonymous arrival of a newspaper cutting. Minutes later, he is shot and killed by an unknown assassin.

Sheriff Cyrus Yapp and local newspaper editor, Will Bullard, are soon making the connection between Pascoe’s death and the five-year-old train raid and wondering if newcomer to Jeopardy, Luke Frey, is mixed up in the murders that suddenly occur in this once peaceful town. Luke, however, is more interested in discovering the identity of the train’s mysterious fifth raider. But why?

John Davage’s third Black Horse Western is as enjoyable as his first two. Starting with the train robbery, the story quickly moves forward five years and it’s then that the reader becomes hooked by all the puzzles that make this tale so intriguing. Who is Luke Frey? Are the train robbers living in Jeopardy, and if so who are they? Some characters seem to be living under alias, so who are they really? How can a whore know so much? What secrets is the bank manager hiding? Who’s behind the killings? Who sent the newspaper cutting? As each question is answered so more seem to present themselves.

John Davage writes in very readable prose. His chapters are short, and he uses them to follow various characters as they all attempt to work out why the killings are happening and who is responsible for what. If there is a main character then it’s Luke Frey, but is he hero or villain?

There’s plenty of action as guilty parties try to have those they see as a threat assassinated or framed. By the end all the story threads are neatly tied up and I was left with the feeling of having been well entertained, and once more I find myself looking forward to John Davage’s next book.

Showdown in Jeopardy is officially published on December 30th but is available now from the usual Internet sources.

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