Wednesday, August 24, 2011


            HELL ON WHEELS is one terrific Western yarn! It is the fourth and latest entry in the Rancho Diablo books and is a superlative addition to this already outstanding series.
            Sam Blaylock has fought hard to build a home where his family can finally settle down and that home has become the Rancho Diablo Ranch, a rugged slice of Texas just outside the town of Shooter's Cross. One of the key men who has always been at Sam's side during this struggle (as well as in the past) is young Mike Tucker. Despite his loyalty to Sam, Tucker is a man apart, a man with some parts of his past better left unknown. He's working hard to learn ranching ways and to settle down with the others at Rancho Diablo, but it remains an unavoidable fact that what he's best at is scouting and doing gun work. The latter is evident to everyone and it makes some folks nervous, even a little frightened. Among these is Sam's wife, Jenny, and the subject of Tucker has struck more than one discordant note between the pair. But Tucker's loyalty to Sam cuts both ways and the bond between the two men remains solid.
            In a series of escalating events (including the book's reader-grabbing opening scene) Tucker's gunslinging past draws increasing attention and increasing displeasure from Jenny. But then—while Sam is away on a bull-buying trip—a shocking event occurs: Miriam, Sam and Jenny's daughter, is kidnapped by a vicious gang of human traffickers who plan to take her, along with several other young women they have snatched from around Shooter's Cross, to sell down in Mexico. Jenny must turn to Tucker and urge him to call upon all the lethal skills that she had formerly disparaged in order to aid her in a desperate race against time to rescue her daughter.
            The journey will be both hard and dangerous. It will test the two unlikely partners and it will teach them things about themselves and also about one another that they never expected. In the end, the success of their mission will come down to whether or not their two iron wills can unify for the sake of what is at hand.
            If you're looking for gritty, authentic Western action with strong characterizations and top-notch writing (by Mel Odom this time out, alternating with James Reasoner and Bill Crider under the "house name" of Colby Jackson for this exciting series)—it don't get much better than this.
            Highly recommended.

Don't miss this one, gang.
Persevere --- WD

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