Monday, July 22, 2013
Review Roundup: Revenge is a Bitter Brew
By James J. Griffin
Western Fictioneers Library, March 2013
$0.99 Kindle, ASIN B00BNQJ2G8
When a gang of outlaws attacks Texas Ranger Jim Blawcyzk’s wife and son, a dyed-in-the-wool lawman sheds his badge to get revenge. Determined to deliver justice personally this time, he disobeys orders and sets out after the lowlifes, not knowing whether his family will live or die of their wounds. Will he cross the line and become exactly the sort of man he’s always hunted?
First published in 2008 and out of print for several years before Western Fictioneers re-released the book in digital formats, Jim Griffin’s Ranger’s Revenge represents something of a departure for the author. Griffin typically draws a bright line between good and evil, hero and outlaw. In this tale, Blawcyzk — one of the author's recurring characters — wears the mantle of an antihero, and he wears it well. The outlaws wanted him dead; his wife and son were collateral damage. That notion twists a knife deep in Blawcyzk’s soul. Part of him demands the personal satisfaction of avenging his innocent loved ones, yet he can’t quite turn loose of his bone-marrow-deep principles. The conflict tears him up inside and creates a honed edge of tension for most of the book.
While Blawcyzk hunts the outlaws, the Rangers hunt him. He must employ everything he’s learned about both sides of the law just to survive. When partners and old friends come to his aid, he’s burdened with the additional knowledge their careers and lives are in jeopardy, too. Nevertheless, he forges deeper into the bowels of a self-made hell, more conflicted than ever but unwilling to abandon his quest.
Ranger’s Revenge is gritty, action-packed, and full of Griffin’s signature historical detail. For Griffin fans, this is a must-read. For writers, it’s excellent study material. Readers who enjoy classic westerns will find all the tradition they could want between the covers.
Kathleen Rice Adams is a Texan, a voracious reader, a professional journalist, and a novelist in training. She received a review copy of Ranger’s Revenge from the publisher. Her opinions are her own and are neither endorsed nor necessarily supported by Western Fictioneers or individual members of the organization.