Saturday 25 March 2023


By Dusty Richards and Matthew P. Mayo
Pinnacle Books, March 2023

Mackworth “Mack” Harrigan’s family legacy burned to the ground in the spring of 1849. The Ohio mill that brought them prosperity was now cinder and ash, and his ruthless father had perished in the flames along with their fortune. If the Harrigan’s have a future, it lies out west in open country where they can build whatever lives they choose. Mack knows his wife, Ell, and their children Kane, Meghan, and Fitch are more than capable of overcoming the challenges of their journey.

The untamed frontier is full of seriously deadly battles. From a rough river voyage to wagon train travel across desert lands plagued by dust storms, the Harrigan’s encounter desperadoes and merciless killers who view them as little more than prey. As Mack and his family adapt to their merciless surroundings, they realize they must enforce their own laws and dispense their own justice…

Sadly, Dusty Richards died in January 2018. He wrote numerous westerns under his own name and pseudonyms. Like has been done with William W. Johnstone, Pinnacle Books have decided to keep his name alive by continuing to put out new work under his name which is written by other authors. Unlike on the Johnstone books, Pinnacle have added the real author’s name to the cover, something that will be greatly appreciated by many readers.

I have read a few westerns written by Matthew P. Mayo and enjoyed them all, so I was pleased to see his name on the front of this book. That was what made me buy it and I’m glad I did as I found it to be an excellent read.

The Harrigan family are easy to relate to. It was fascinating to see how they’d adapt to surviving in the west as they really are fish out of water. They need help and get both good and bad advice. Mack’s stubbornness doesn’t help either which is why they end up joining a small wagon train guided by a drunk. They also set out on their journey at the wrong time of the year and snow is also going to be an obstacle they’ll struggle to overcome.

Matthew P. Mayo writes some terrific scenes packed with tension, deadly situations that you can never be sure how they’ll turn out. Scenes such as Mack trying to rescue his father from the mill fire and a desperate race for survival from the hungry flames of a prairie fire. I don’t want to highlight anything else for fear of spoiling this gripping tale for those who are planning to read this book.

I wasn’t sure how the story would end and Matthew P. Mayo had a couple of surprises waiting in store for the closing scenes which left me both grinning and looking forward to reading the second book, A Need for Violence, which has been announced for an August 2023 release.

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