“Bloody” Joe Mannion is a town tamer of great renown. His temper is just a famous. Known as the most uncompromising lawman on the Western frontier, he’s been the town marshal of Del Norte in the Colorado Territory for the past five years. When his temper gets the better of him and he badly beats Whip Helton, the son of a prominent rancher, Joe’s house is burned down and his daughter kidnapped and raped. Joe goes on a vengeance-fuelled warpath, putting him at odds with the whole town he’s sworn to protect.
To make sure Whip Helton hangs for the kidnapping and rape, Bloody Joe will risk everything, including his life, the town, and a hail of hot lead!
Bloody Joe is the first book in a tough new series from Peter Brandvold, an author I’ve long been a fan of, and for me he’s yet again come up with a terrific lead character who I’m going to enjoy reading more about. Once Joe sets his mind on doing something, he’s going to do it, and to hell with everything and everyone else. This single-minded determination could see him lose his job, his woman, and his life.
There are loads of excellent confrontations throughout this fast-moving tale and you have to wonder how Blood Joe can emerge victorious as the rancher has a small army ready to take on the lawman and bust Whip Helton out of jail. How Joe gets Whip into jail is just one of the thrilling parts of this brutal tale.
Peter Brandvold excels at fast and furious action scenes and hard-hitting violence, yet he can also write tender scenes just as well, Joe’s love for his daughter comes across superbly. Joe’s haunted mind regarding eyes and his almost uncontrollable temper are appealing traits to his character too.
One of the scenes that built-up tension to breaking point for me was when Joe daughter, Vangie, took her first steps into the streets of Del Norte after her horrific ordeal. I had no idea how this was going to play out. Was she going to snap, be ok, or perhaps take her own life?
There are other great characters to discover too, such as Stringbean, one of Joe’s deputies who doubts his abilities as a lawman, with the opposite sex and as a man and it isn’t long before he’s battling with his belief that he is a coward.
Everything is resolved in a gripping final showdown that has a high death toll and includes a couple of surprising moments making for a very satisfying ending to this great book.
If you are a fan of Peter Brandvold’s work, then you’ll not want to miss this book, this series. If you love fast-paced action-packed westerns then this is a book that should be on your must-read list. If you’ve never read anything by Peter Brandvold then this is a great place to start, to find out what you’ve been missing.
Book 2, Revenge at Burial Rock is due out in May 2022.