Monday, May 25, 2015

Noteworthy Reads: THE TITHING HERD by J.R. Lindermuth

THE TITHING HERD is an ambitious, exciting, multi-layered Western adventure. The title comes from the practice of cash-strapped Mormons, back in the middle and late 1800s, to gather up a herd of cattle to take to market in order to pay their annual tithe to the Church.
At no cost to the momentum of the book, a number of historical Mormon facts such as this are interwoven into the plot and subplots, giving this tale some distinct “learning” aspects that are quite interesting. Make no mistake, however --- there is plenty of action and suspense to propel these facts and all else along at a rate that will keep the reader eagerly turning pages.

At the core of everything is the character of Luther “Lute” Donnelly, a former lawman carrying around a pack of guilt over past deadly events that he feels responsible for allowing to happen. Said events cost him the life of his brother and also cost him the love of his life --- a Mormon widow he was ready to marry but instead ran away from due to his shame. In the interim he has been getting by on money earned from racing his prize horse but otherwise staying out on the edge of things. In his gut, though, he carries a thirst for revenge on the man who killed his brother and in his heart he still carries his love for Serene, the woman he abandoned.
Coming across a young man left double-crossed by some bandits he’d innocently fallen in with serves as a catalyst to draw Lute back into many of the things he’d been on the run from. From the lad, Tom Baskins, he hears the name “Spanish” --- the outlaw leader responsible for the death of Lute’s brother. And then, after taking Tom back to make amends with the rancher (an old friend of Lute’s) he had inadvertently wronged while in bad company, one thing leads to another and Lute suddenly finds himself not only reunited with Serene but also committed to helping her son take their tithing herd to market. Part of this is as a favor to Serene, but perhaps a greater part is that Lute expects Spanish and his gang to try and rustle the herd, thus providing the former lawman the chance he has been waiting for – to once again confront Spanish.

All of this is told in rapidly cutting-back-and-forth scenes involving numerous characters and settings, everything skillfully handled by author Lindermuth’s sure hand. You will find action, adventure, suspense, romance, and even a touch of mysticism --- interlaced with more than a few twists and surprises --- that will leave you cheering for Lute and the rest of the “good guys” and hoping to see more of them.
Strongly recommended

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