THE JUDGE #11
By Hank Edwards
Harper, December 1993
First there’s fire on the tracks a few miles short of Whiskey Flat, then cannon shots turn the Great Western’s locomotive into a mass of twisted steel. Tempers flare and the stakes are high as two rival railroads race to drive a spur through Wolf Creek Pass – a line that will make a fortune freighting gold and silver from the rich Colorado mines.
Suddenly Clay Torn stands alone against vicious saboteurs led by men who think their powerful political connections put them above the law. But Judge Torn is going to make sure Great Western gets a fair shake – even if it means giving Coastal & Northern a righteous run for the money.
A storyline that has turned up in many western books but I can’t remember reading another where one railroad company employs a band of ex-confederate soldiers who refused to surrender using a cannon to destroy the oppositions locomotives. This alone adds a neat twist to this tale. Torn’s method for dealing with this is nicely done too but does lead to complications later on.
The story mainly follows Torn but some chapters and scenes are told from other characters viewpoints so the reader knows who is doing what and for what reason. Having said that there is one person who I thought wasn’t quite who they said they were and I was proven correct but not as I expected and this revelation and the violent act it leads to came as a complete surprise adding a welcome twist to the tale.
Hank Edwards is a pseudonym for Jason Manning who wrote ten out of the twelve books in this series, and he keeps the story moving forwards at a fast pace as Judge Torn tries to discover who are the spies and saboteurs and then work out a way to stop their deadly tactics. In doing so Torn will have to face a lethal adversary who he first met in the previous book, Death Warrant, and this time there isn’t any way to escape a face-off Torn knows he can’t win.
Like all the other books in this series I found this one to be a quick and entertaining read and I’m sure it won’t be long before I pick up the final book to see if the series comes to an end and Torn finds the woman he’s been searching for since it began.