Lone McGantry, the hero of Wayne D. Dundee's fine debut Western novel
(currently nominated for a Peacemaker Award for Best First Novel) returns in RECKONING AT RAINROCK. This time former scout and all-around tough hombre McGantry is hired by an attractive lady lawyer to accompany a fugitive who is being returned to justice. The twist is that the fugitive is a beautiful young woman who was unjustly convicted of murder, and she wants to return for a retrial so that her name will be cleared. DISMAL RIVER
Getting Roxanne Bigbee back to the town of
, where the murder and the previous trial took place, isn't that easy to start with, but even after he accomplishes that, McGantry's troubles are just starting. The forces that conspired to railroad Roxanne the first time are still there, and they have an even greater stake now in making sure she doesn't stand trial again and expose what they did before. Rainrock
Dundee spins this yarn in fast-paced, hardboiled prose, while at the same time creating characters that grip the reader's interest. The noirish atmosphere and the menacing small-town setting are reminiscent of the novels of Lewis B. Patten, and the gritty action scenes are very effective. There are echoes of the Gold Medal Westerns by authors such as Patten, Dudley Dean, Gordon D. Shirreffs, and William Heuman, but Dundee has his own distinctive voice touched with both melancholy and hope. On top of that, Lone McGantry is a great character and a very likable hero, and I hope he returns many times in the future.
I'm reluctant to start talking about "the New Western" as if it's a separate movement, but there are several newer writers, including
Dundee, Heath Lowrance, Edward A. Grainger, Troy Smith, Matthew P. Mayo, and others, putting their stamp on a classic genre and generating an appreciation for Westerns among readers who might not have tried them before. That, along with continued excellent work from a number of seasoned veterans in the field, makes this an exciting time to be both a Western writer and a Western reader. RECKONING AT RAINROCK is a fine example of the great Westerns being published today, and if you haven't tried one before, you won't go wrong by starting with it.
And if you're already a fan of tough, hardboiled Western novels, don't miss this one. Highly recommended.