Gideon Safford series, book 1
By Bill Yenne
DS Productions, December 2019
Gideon Safford drifts into town quietly and unpretentiously, fully and completely expecting to drift out again in that same manner, just as he has passed like a shadow through so many other settlements and fading boomtowns across the West.
It is not to be. Guns are drawn. Safford kills a man to save a man, but quickly finds that he has helped to upset a delicate balance of conflicting interests in the foothills and placers across the remote Elk Fork country of Montana Territory.
As the wind ruffles the golden leaves of the aspens, war explodes between avarice and innocence. Cold hearts exact cold-blooded revenge. Safford puts a thumb on the scales of justice, but a mysterious malevolence lurks within the deepest ravines.
Winter falls hard upon the country, icy winds blow, death stalks the mountains, and vultures circle in the sky.
Bill Yenne had a couple of westerns published by Berkely back in 2012 and 2013 and then disappeared from this genre, which was a shame as I really enjoyed those books. I was really pleased to discover that Bill had written another western, the first in a new series, and I was very eager to read it.
Gideon Safford makes for an excellent lead character, but as the opening chapter reveals Gideon Safford isn’t his real name. This, and the reason he rides under an alias, adds a great sense of mystery to this man. As the story develops, we discover a little more about his past and his hopes for the future. One thing is for certain, he’s very good with a gun.
Yenne has also created a superb cast of supporting characters, each having important roles to play as the tale unfolds. Hired guns are killing off settlers, is this part of a landgrab? As Safford begins to whittle these gunmen down, he discovers someone else is taking them out too. Who is this mystery sniper and what is his motive? It isn’t long before the vultures of the title have plenty of corpses to feast on as the story races forward at a fast pace, and before the conclusion is reached the author springs plenty of surprises as to the who and whys of the tale.
Yenne’s writing is extremely readable, his dialogue is believable and bad language is kept to a minimum. His action scenes are visual and graphic. The descriptions of emotions after innocents’ die are beautifully written and are very moving at times.
All too soon I found myself reading the final page so all I can do now is patiently await the arrival of the second book in this series. If it’s anything like this one I’ll be in for another exciting and entertaining read.