Sunday 10 March 2019


By Ralph Cotton
Signet, July 2003

When the Peltry Gang swoops into Rileyville, the attack is sudden and merciless. Before the townsfolk know what hit them, one of their own lies dead in the dirt street, Deputy Abner Webb is caught with his pants down, and just for good measure, the desperadoes shoot the sheriff and leave him for dead as they head out.

Webb knows he must capture the outlaws for what they’ve done, but that won’t be easy for the inexperienced lawman. Yet with the help of a shady horse trader and an ornery schoolmaster, Webb just might bring the gunslingers in on their feet – or slung over their saddles.

Ralph Cotton has created a superb bunch of characters for this extremely fast-moving story that barely takes a breath between each savage bout of gunplay. As well as having to deal with the outlaws, soldiers, gunrunners, scalphunters and Federales, the posse has its own internal conflicts for Webb to tackle – he himself being one of the problems for one of the posse members which sees hate and jealousy rise viciously.

Then there’s the suspicions about the horse trader, Will Summers, just what is his angle? And what of the schoolteacher, Sherman Dahl, just why would a schoolmaster be so proficient with a gun and cool under fire? Can either of them be trusted? As the posse begins to face the brutal reality of their task some die, some leave and other people join them, including some who won’t think twice about double-crossing the posse.

As the chase takes all sides into Mexico, all these groups find themselves fighting for possession of a Gatling Gun and no one is safe from death. That’s one of the traits I like about Ralph Cotton’s writing, the fact that you can never be sure who he’ll kill off, and when.

If you like hard-hitting, action-packed westerns that offer surprises, twists and engaging characters then Webb’s Posse is a book you should consider tracking down. I don’t think I’ll be spoiling anything by adding that this book saw five sequels featuring two of the survivors of the hunt to bring the Peltry gang to justice, and I’m certainly going to be reading them very soon.

1 comment:

Oscar Case said...

Nice review of an exciting novel that I need to read.