Monday, 12 March 2018

West of Fort Laramie

By Steve Ritchie
September 2017

Zach Fugate came home from the war to the mountains of Kentucky, only to be greeted with hostility, because he had fought for the North. So, to avoid drawing his family into a shooting feud, he loaded a canoe with trade-goods and his few belongings and headed west for the Black Hills of the Dakotas.

He left Ball Creek to avoid difficulties, but no matter where his travels take him or how hard he tries to avoid it, trouble seems to always be waiting for Ball Creek Zach. Nevertheless, romance blooms and new friendships are made as gunsmoke hangs in the air and blood covers the ground from St. Joseph to Fort Laramie and back.

A book of adventure and discovery. A tale that tells of Ball Creek Zach finding a place to set up a new home that also contains riches of more than one kind. Steve Ritchie’s descriptions of this hidden valley paint vivid imagery that place the reader right there, experiencing the wonders and grandeur of nature as if you were standing right beside Fugate.

Ritchie also has the ability to create believable characters and many of these will become new friends for Zach, one he hopes to settle down with.

Along the way Zach comes across those who want what he has, those who just like to push others around, and these are dealt with expertly and swiftly. Ritchie’s action sequences being well told and filled with tension.

I’ve purposely been a bit vague in revealing too much about the story as I don’t want to give anything away to those intending to read this book. 

The author also plants the seeds for storylines that could be developed in the sequel, plots of not just hope and happiness but also of confrontation that could threaten Zach’s new life in the worst way possible. Hopefully I will get around to finding out soon as the sequel to this story Return to the Sweetwater, was also published in 2017.


Neil Waring said...

Well, that title certainly got my attention, I will take a look. Oh, I live 15 miles west of Fort Laramie.

Steve Ritchie said...

Neil, since you live in the area, you will recognize the names of mountain ranges, streams and rivers, and maybe even some historic events that are mentioned along the way. I have been accused, by one of those who have reviewed the book, of not having done my research, because I somewhat exaggerated the "sea of grass" that covers the Wyoming prairie, but that's how I remember it from the years I lived in Casper.
When describing the first time Zach sees the valley of the Middle Fork of the Powder River, I simply closed my eyes and keyed the words as I recalled it the first time I saw it. It was breathtaking. My wife and I are planning to vacation in Wyoming this summer.
I hope you enjoy Ball Creek Zach, Book One and decide to read Book Two. Let me know what you think, won't you?

Steve Ritchie