Ranger Sam Burrack is on his way south in search of a notorious gang of bandits. He’s gotten a tip from Escalante – a prisoner in the Yuma Penitentiary – that the Cowboy Gang are holing up along Bad River. The mayor of the nearby village is as corrupt as the gang and if the rumors are true, they’ve even got a former Russian assassin among their gang, making their bank and train robberies that much more dangerous.
Burrack knows he won’t be able to just walk in and make arrests, he’s going to have to be patient and then maybe he’ll be able to pick them up one at a time.
So this book wasn’t quite what I was expecting and had me thinking about the “western” genre. Typically, when I choose to read a western – a classic style western – I’m looking for character, action, setting, and story, pretty much in that order. And when that order is changed up my first reaction is that I didn’t like the story. Such is the case here.
This is a slow-moving, thoughtful (reflective) story. Given the nature of the characters … a ranger and some criminals, including an assassin … one would expect a lot of shoot-’em up action, but that’s not the case here. This is probably much more realistic (and certainly smarter) to not have our hero rush in against overwhelming odds, but ‘real’ isn’t always exciting to read.
I found this to be quite slow. It seemed like a lot of set-up for a nice payoff, but it was too little, too late.
This was my first book by author Ralph Cotton and there were enough hints that I might like other books by the same author, so I hope to give Cotton another chance, but this particular book just didn’t hit the mark.
Looking for a good book? Bad River by Ralph Cotton is a western that is likely much more realistic in it’s approach to having the law catch the criminals, but it’s a lot of planning and very slow moving. If you want a thoughtful western, give this a try. If you want an action western, move along.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Ralph Cotton
publisher: Berkley Books
paperback, 304 pages