By Tim Bryant
Pinnacle, June 2018
Wilkie John Liquorish may be a young man, but he’s no greenhorn. So far in his short, hard life, he’s dug graves, driven cattle, and nearly dangled from the end of a hangman’s noose – no thanks to his ungentlemanly enemy, Gentleman Jack Delaney. Now Wilkie’s been newly deputized as a Texas Ranger – and the real fun begins . . .
At Fort Concho, Wilkie John receives word that a bounty hunter is tracking the notorious outlaw known as Phantom Bill. Wilkie John has every reason to join the party: duty, honor, redemption, maybe even fortune and fame. But he has one reason to be wary: the bounty hunter is Gentleman Jack. He tried to kill Wilkie John once. This time, he might succeed . . .
The opening chapter to this, the second Wilkie John western, starts with Wilkie discovering bones in the desert and it looks like Wilkie will soon be dead too. The second chapter goes back in time and most of the book is taken up with telling the story of how Wilkie gets into the situation we first find him in.
Told in the first person through Wilkie we share his thoughts behind his attempts to solve the mystery of the identity of Phantom Bill which soon become entwined with the destruction of a train in the middle of nowhere and the killing of a woman and her child. Is the same person behind it all or are there two killers at work and what is the motives behind the possible assassinations?
Wilkie’s relationship with Gentleman Jack is well written, you can almost feel the tension whenever they are together. At anytime you are expecting one to try and kill the other.
A couple of storylines are carried over from the previous book but Tim Bryant explains enough about them for readers who’ve yet to read A World of Hurt.
The book contains a lot of dark humour too, some which had me laughing out loud, such as the soup incident – I can’t say any more about that without spoiling it for those intending to read this book.
Wilkie is still prone to shooting anyone who annoys him without warning making him a somewhat unpredictable character which is one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed reading both books so much.
Everything comes to a neat conclusion, but once more there is a plot thread left dangling which I hope means there will be a third book sometime soon.
Both Wilkie John westerns provide first class entertainment and should be on every western fans reading list.