Saturday, 15 January 2022


By William W. Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone
Pinnacle, September 2020

There are two things a man can never escape: his past and his destiny. For Buck Trammel, that past includes a fatal mistake that ended his career as a Pinkerton – and a deadly shootout with the Bowman gang in a Wichita saloon. Call it luck or call it fate, but the famous Deputy Wyatt Earp was there to give Buck some advice: Run for your life. Maybe it was Earp’s warning that saved him from the gang’s wrath. Maybe it was destiny that brought him to the town of Blackstone, Wyoming, where his biggest problem is a brewing father-son war. But Trammel’s luck is about to run dry . . . 

The gang’s ruthless boss, Old Man Bowman, knows where Trammel lives. He’s assembled a small army of gunslingers. He’s hired a Pinkerton with a grudge against Trammel. And he’s coming to town to bury the hatchet . . . 

This book continues storylines begun in the first Buck Trammel western, North of Laramie, so if you haven’t read that story, you may find it advantageous to read the earlier book before this one, although it isn’t necessary as the author includes enough information in this second book to fill new readers in on any background detail you need to know to understand how those previous events shaped the plot in this tale.

The author develops relationships further between characters from the first book and introduces others too. All find themselves struggling to stay alive in a twisting plot that easily pulls you into its enthralling storyline. A bounty placed on Trammel’s head ensures there’s plenty of gunplay as all kinds of people try to make themselves a quick fortune. It was the coming confrontation between Trammel and the Pinkerton’s that added suspense to the tale and kept me eagerly turning the pages.

Trammel’s broken friendship with Adam Hagan and his uneasy alliance with Adam’s father, King Charles Hagan, is tested a number of times and there is a shocking revelation that could cause unfixable damage. 

The story involves fast violent action scenes, political wrangling, double-cross, and devious twists, in a well-crafted tale that proved to be a gripping read. The book neatly ties up the main threads of the story and leaves a couple of the sub-plots still dangling, thus ensuring readers will want to read the third book, The Intruders, to find out what happens next, something I hope to do very soon.

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