Thursday 13 December 2012

Miss Dempsey's School for Gunslingers

By I.J. Parnham
Avalon, 2004

When tonic sellers Fergal O’Brien and Randolph McDougal decided to settle in Destiny, they reckoned the new railroad would make Destiny a boomtown, but it only brought an onslaught of surly gunslingers. While Fergal sells his tonic – a universal remedy to cure all ills – Randolph becomes sheriff of the dusty town. Throwing the ruffians in a half-built jail is his solution for dealing with a corrupt mayoral election and ten thousand dollars disappearing from the town coffers.

Her faith in the decency of the town wavering, the schoolteacher, Miss Dempsey, takes it upon herself to clean up Destiny by educating the gunslingers so that they’ll learn the error of their ways! After all, she points out to one of her students, knowing how to read is important if one’s own name should wind up on a wanted poster.

As Randolph wants to win Miss Dempsey’s heart, he grudgingly supports her cause. But Kent Sullivan, his rival for her affections and a showman of homemade historical memorabilia, is always one step ahead of him in providing her school with just the right support. So Randolph turns to his old friend Fergal for help. Can Fergal devise another one of his legendary schemes to resolve all of Randolph’s problems, or will he just get them both killed? Will decency be restored to the town of Destiny through Miss Dempsey’s school, or will the roughest gunslinger of all be named mayor?

Like the previous two books in this excellent series this story is extremely fast moving and includes many how-are-they-going-to-get-out-of-that situations. There are plenty of laughs to be had too, such as the art lesson and the young boy pointing out the faults in Sullivan’s exhibition. Other story threads that left me grinning were the attempts to rig the election and Fergal finding out his story as to the origin of his tonic has been ripped off and this other sellers’ tonic not only cures all ills, it can bring people back from the dead – and it’s proved to do so! 

Ian Parnham has once again come up with a very entertaining read that left me eagerly looking forward to the next book in the series.

The Fergal O’Brien stories are now being made available as ebooks through Amazon.

1 comment:

I.J. Parnham said...

Thank you for your kind review.