By Cordell Falk
Imagicknation Press, December 2012
Matthew Carter comes to the violent boomtown of Darwin just one job away from leaving his troubled past behind. When his mentor is murdered, he must choose between running into the desert and staying on to find the stash of gold that could mean his redemption. Caught in a firestorm between the competing wills of a legendary lawman, a corrupt rail baron, and a vengeful Colonel, Matthew rides hard with the fear that his last job may turn out to be just that.
Valley of the Damned is the first in a series of that name. According to the author’s website there will be a further five books.
At first glance the cover of this book isn’t that inspiring, doesn’t grab a viewers’ attention, but on reading this book it perfectly illustrates an element of the story. I just hope prospective buyers don’t pass it by as it doesn’t shout western in a way we usually see.
Cordell Falk has created a fascinating group of characters that find themselves on a collision course that can only have one outcome; a bloody battle that all sides participate in.
Getting to this final showdown makes for a great read. At first the story seems to be yet another version of a range war tale but it doesn’t take long for this to be seen not to be the case. There’s much more going on than that, and with the introduction of each new character the plot becomes more and more complicated. I can’t really say anymore on this without spoiling some of the surprises waiting in store.
With plenty of mystery and intrigue Cordell Falk hooks the reader, keeping them turning the pages to find the answers to such questions as who is the Chinese girl, Mai, and what are her motives? How can a barbed wire fence staked across a railroad track hope to stop a train?
As all sides come together for the last gunfight most of the story threads are tied up but, like in all the best series, Falk leaves a couple dangling ensuring his readers will be on the lookout for the next book.