Monday, January 27, 2014
Review Roundup: A Ranger Rides Again
By James J. Griffin
The Western Fictioneers Library, July 2013
$8.99 paperback, ISBN 1491065117
$2.99 Kindle, ASIN B00E5RCV4M
$2.99 most other e-formats, ISBN 9781301580088
For J.S. Turnbo, life in crime-ridden West Texas is a running gun battle. Outsmarting outlaws is just part of the job for a Texas Ranger … until one little mistake puts him at the mercy of a ruthless gang hiding out in plain sight.
When author James J. Griffin writes about Rangers, readers know what to expect: a steady stream of testosterone and no safe haven for the evildoers. Griffin’s lawdogs are indisputably good; their quarry indisputably rotten. Lots of gunplay takes place, but the violence is never graphic, and there’s nary a foul word to be found. The formula is tried and true, and Griffin wields it like no one else.
The Ranger is classic Griffin, white hats, black hats, trusty equine sidekick and all. Though the story is fictional, readers will have no trouble imagining Turnbo, a real-life nineteenth century Texas Ranger, actually might have experienced something similar. As usual, Griffin puts readers inside the story with uncommon details and dialogue that rings true to the period, and equine characters get better than a fair shake. In fact, some of the best moments in the story occur between Turnbo and his horse, a Medicine Hat paint named Hat.
The story itself moves along at a spritely pace, opening with a stagecoach robbery Turnbo triggers by throwing around his considerable law-enforcement weight. From there it’s off to the races, as the Ranger sets about cleaning up a West Texas landscape lousy with rustlers and bank robbers. Turnbo is undeniably in his element amid a hail of lead … which probably is why little things get by him during an evening of socializing in town. Those things return with big teeth later.
For traditional western storytelling about larger-than-life, tough-as-nails characters who dog a trail until their blisters have blisters, The Ranger is hard to beat. Turnbo probably would have approved.
Kathleen Rice Adams is a Texan, a voracious reader, a professional journalist, and an author. She received a review copy of West of the Big River: The Ranger 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.