Monday, September 23, 2013
Review Roundup: Gold, Guns, and Guts
By Jory Sherman
Western Fictioneers Library, May 2013
$2.99 Kindle, ASIN B00CMX2TXO
$2.99 most other e-formats, ISBN 9781301456895
One more job will give drifter Clay Brand the stake he needs to settle down with the girl he’s loved since childhood. Protecting a fortune in gold dust won’t be easy, but he’s accepted tougher employment. He expects trouble — a smart man always expects trouble — but the depth of deceit and betrayal in a California mining town adds a whole new dimension to the concept of treachery.
From the beginning of Gun for Hire, tension oozes from every page. The action is fast and relentless. Gunfights, a blizzard, an avalanche, murders, robbery, conniving women, and double-dealing from associates and enemies alike put Brand in an ever-more-precarious situation. Not even keeping a close eye and a loaded gun on the devils he knows can protect all the angels in harm’s way. Worse, Brand’s neck may end up in a noose if he doesn’t figure out who’s masterminding the villainy.
Originally published in paperback in 1975 (Major Books, ISBN 089041212X), Gun for Hire was Jory Sherman’s first western novel (though not his first published work). The book might not have been written at all except for an accidental encounter with an orphaned cover. When the original contract writer couldn’t meet his manuscript obligation, Sherman was asked to back up an off-the-cuff comment that the cover was so compelling he could write a story based on the image alone.
The words proved no idle boast. According to Sherman’s introduction to the digital edition, he completed the manuscript in one and one-half weeks of seclusion. The man is a natural storyteller. He’s also a natural teacher: Gun for Hire demonstrates many of the concepts Sherman illuminates in his iconic craft manuals. Plain, straightforward language delivers an elegant package balancing plot, characterization, and setting with emotional wallop.
Read the book for fun and adventure — there’s plenty of both. If you’re a writer, read it again with an eye for how Sherman employs the tools of the storyteller’s trade. Foreshadowing, symbolism, cadence, misdirection … in this author’s almost-invisible hands, they’re subtle but powerful.
Kathleen Rice Adams is a Texan, a voracious reader, a professional journalist, and a novelist in training. She received a review copy of Gun for Hire from the publisher. Her opinions are her own and are neither endorsed nor necessarily supported by Western Fictioneers or individual members of the organization. Links in the review are for convenience only; they do not produce affiliate revenue.