This novel is the debut entry in an exciting, ambitious series being put out by Western Fictioneers. It is a "shared universe" concept with the universe being Kansas, 1871, in the vicinity of the fictional town of Wolf Creek. This novel and others to follow (several more are already planned) will be written by a handful of Western Fictioneers authors, each writer contributing one or two chapters centered on a particular character he or she has chosen and each sequence flowing into the overall storyline.
It sounds more complicated than it is, really, especially when placed in the hands (or at the key-stroking fingertips, I guess I should say) of professionals. And all you need to do is read WOLF CREEK: BLOODY TRAIL to be convinced that the results can add up to a top-notch read.
The opening chapters of BLOODY TRAIL are slowed somewhat by the introduction of numerous characters and the richly detailed back stories provided for many of them. This is necessary, however, due to the scope of the cast and the ways in which their pasts will play a part in events to come. As it says in the novel's Introduction, "everyone in Wolf Creek has a secret." And, boy, does that ever prove out. Without the earlier background details, it would be nearly impossible to keep track of the individual participants once the action kicks in.
When it comes, the action is fast, brutal, and bloody. It is initiated by a ruthless gang of marauders, former Confederate guerillas, led by a cold-blooded killer named Danby. The Danby gang hits Wolf Creek in a military-style sweep, robbing and pillaging, mercilessly killing men, women, and children—as well as nearly all of the horses in town in order to prevent pursuit.
But a posse of misfits is put together by sheriff G.W. Satterlee, drawing from what able men and horses are still available, and pursuit is nevertheless undertaken. The posse's aim is to catch up with the bloodthirsty gang before they reach safety in the Indian Nations.
Many surprises and plot twists—and plenty more action and gunplay—take place before the conclusion is reached. The different writing styles mesh flawlessly and the overall results make for a highly entertaining and satisfying reading experience.
Persevere --- WD