Monday, April 28, 2014

Renegade's Revenge - Jack Badelaire

I've enjoyed Jack Badelaire's action and war novels, so I was eager to read his first Western. RENEGADE'S REVENGE is a short novel set during the Civil War and its aftermath. Like many families, the Miller brothers are separated by the war, with Caleb fighting for the Union and his twin brother Caleb and their older brother Paul joining up with a band of Confederate guerrillas. Inevitably, in the last days of the war, they find themselves on different sides of the same battle, and the outcome is a tragic one when Caleb Miller is taken prisoner and executed by David's brutal commander.

The war is over soon after that, and David and Paul find themselves back on the family farm making an uneasy truce with each other. David regards what his captain did as murder, not an act of war, and he and Paul decide to sell the farm and track down the captain and the brutal sergeant who actually killed Caleb. They know that doing so will make them outlaws, but they don't care. They're going to avenge Caleb's death no matter what it takes.

It's a classic set-up for a Western revenge novel, and Badelaire handles it beautifully. His prose is crisp and assured and flows very well. He has a nice touch with the characters, creating a tough-minded but sympathetic protagonist in David Miller, a couple of truly despicable villains, and vivid supporting characters including a former Union officer haunted by the past. The frequent action scenes are quite effective and lead up to a satisfying showdown.

RENEGADE'S REVENGE is a top-notch traditional Western that makes me hope it won't be Badelaire's only entry in the genre. I'm looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next. If you're a Western fan, you definitely should give this one a try.


Jack Badelaire said...

James, thanks so much for this great review. I'm always a little nervous (okay, more than a little...) when one of my stories gets in the hands of an expert, but you've given me some assurance that my efforts weren't for nothing.

Mark Allen said...

Smokin' good review. I agree--Jack needs to write more westerns.