Carson Stone has had a rough life. He’s a wanted man, a former thief, but what he really wants in life is to build his own ranch house and live a peaceful life. To help him earn his stake for a piece of land, he heads west to claim the bounty on a claim-jumper.
Carson gets an old pal, Colby Tate, to join him on this honest escapade and along the way, they help a family defend themselves from some dishonest claim-jumpers. Carson discovers a list on one of the now-dead criminals – that list is a series of names of good, honest, upstanding citizens who are being targeted for death because of a part they played in the capture of a criminal gang. Carson knows he can’t just leave this good people to die at the hands of criminals, so he’ll do whatever it takes to protect them … even putting on a badge.
There’s also a man buying up property around the town, at a very low price so that he can turn around and sell that land to the railroad for a healthy profit. That man has the current sheriff do a little arm-twisting to make sure they sell. When Carson discovers this, he turns to one of the only people he thinks he can trust – a local woman who serves on the town council.
There’s really a lot to like about this book. It’s a pretty standard or classic western with clear ‘good guys’ and clear ‘bad guys’. But our good isn’t any angel. He’s been on the wrong side of the law, but in many ways this makes him more likeable – we believe he wants to turn his life around and be a better man. And of course we see this in action throughout.
The women in the book suggest that Carson might find romance in future books, but this book doesn’t see him acting out of fondness or affection for anyone – just the moral ‘rightness’ of his actions. Until the end, that is … “I gunned down a woman for you … now you’ve got to marry me.”
I’ve been reading westerns off and on for 40+ years and I’ve wished that there were more modern writers writing in this classic genre. The last few years have definitely seen an increase in the genre (thanks to the e-reader perhaps?) – primarily through this publisher – and this is one of the more accessible, enjoyable westerns I’ve read in awhile.
Looking for a good book? Dead Man’s Trail by Nate Morgan is the first book in a new series with criminal-turned-sheriff Carson Stone standing up for what’s right.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Dead Man’s Trail
author: Nate Morgan
series: A Carson Stone Western #1
publisher: Pinnacle Books
paperback, 336 pages