Mark Brown is hoping to become a minister of the church, but for now he is teaching the elementary school in the little town of Barker’s Crossing in Wyoming.
When a local landowner begins to terrorize the homesteaders around Barker’s Crossing, Brown realizes that it is time to act. He has not always been a teacher; in fact, he was a lawman for over ten years.
Now, before he can fulfil his ambition of becoming a minister, he must take up his gun one last time and fight to defend the helpless.
This is the first book I’ve read written under the penname of Harriet Cade, but it’s not the first I’ve read by the author behind that nom de plume, whose real name is Simon Webb. Webb wrote for the Black Horse line of westerns under 10 pseudonyms plus his own name, which I’ll list at the end of this review.
Simon Webb’s plots move forward at a fast clip and usually contain a twist or two. This book is no exception and in this one it’s how some of the main characters die that took me by surprise. Overall, though, the storyline is very straightforward and it’s easy to predict how everything will turn out – except for one or two of the deaths as I’ve already mentioned.
Brown’s mask of being a teacher and wannabe minister is easily seen through by his elderly landlady, and it’s through her urging that he straps on his gun again. Brown finds that the majority of the men in Barker’s Crossing won’t stand by him as he faces the rancher and his hired guns. Brown is only backed by a young kid and an old-timer, which is typical of many westerns. Everything comes to a neat ending, if predictable, and even offers a nick-of-time rescue.
Webb does have a writing style of his own, which can take a little getting used to. This is mainly in the speech. Here’s an example: “I see a mort of dust being kicked up over yonder. Less’n I’m greatly mistook.”
Here's the list of pseudonyms Simon Webb wrote Black Horse Westerns as:
He also wrote BHW’s under his own name.