Meet Bear Haskell, former union war hero, former Pinkerton agent, current deputy United States marshal, and lover of some repute.
Bear’s a big man—over six and a half feet tall and as broad as a barn door. He wears a necklace of bear claws taken from the grizzly that almost had him for supper. That’s the kind of man Bear is. He holds a grudge and he gives no quarter—to grizzly bears or men.
Bear rides for Chief Marshal Henry Dade out of Denver’s First District Court. In this first adventure, Bear is given the sour assignment of going after the man or men who killed his old friend, Lou Cameron. Cameron was the town marshal of Diamondback, a small, dusty settlement in the wilds of Wyoming Territory—until someone back-shot him when he was leaving the outhouse behind his office.
Bear’s relationship with Lou Cameron was complicated. They fought together in the War of Southern Rebellion, but when they came west they both ended up falling into the web of the same intoxicating Southern belle—Suellen Treadwell.
Lou took his and Suellen’s relationship one step farther. He married her. So now when Bear rides into Diamondback, he finds himself not only chin-deep in the mystery of who killed his old friend but eyebrow deep in the allure of his old friend’s still-beautiful and alluring widow.
Did Suellen kill Lou? What does Cameron’s death have to do with a remote, burned-out cabin and two fresh graves? In a heart drawn atop one of the graves is a small hide pouch with a ring in it...
If Bear Haskell can survive an ambush and a savage hanging from a group of cutthroats led by an ugly man named Krantz, he just might live to exact a reckoning for his old friend Lou.
In this second adventure, Henry Dade assigns his top deputy, Haskell, to head down to Texas and throw the cuffs on an infamous, and notoriously mysterious as well as slippery regulator named Jack Hyde whose cunning and devious methods of killing those he’s been paid to kill, as well as his uncanny ability to avoid capture, have gotten him dubbed “the Jackal.”
The Texas Rangers think that a killer killing men for a large rancher near the little town of Sundown must be Hyde. Several dead men have Hyde’s stamp—namely, that they’ve been shot in the back from long-range by a high-powered rifle. It’s widely known that the Jackal kills from long range with a large-caliber Sharps hybrid.
Complicating matters is that nobody seems to know what the Jackal looks like. No one has gotten that close and lived to tell about him. He rides like a...well, like a jackal haunting the range!
On his train journey down to Texas, Haskell meets an attractive and saucy young Pinkerton detective, Arliss Posey. A one-night-stand turns into a shared assignment. As the bodies pile up on the west Texas desert, and more jackals rear their ugly heads in Sundown, Haskell finds himself rethinking not only who the Jack Hyde might be riding for, and why he’s killing, but also just who he really is...
In the mean time, Bear must also negotiate the bountiful wiles and charming mystery of his Pinkerton partner while riding like hell to keep the Jackal from turning him toe-down!
I was privileged to read advance copies of both of these books and thoroughly enjoyed them. Nobody is better at gritty action Westerns than Peter Brandvold, and Bear Haskell is no Longarm clone but rather an interesting, compelling character in his own right. If you're a Western fan, I give this new series a high recommendation. I'm already looking forward to the next one!