Monday, January 27, 2014

Review Roundup: A Ranger Rides Again

West of the Big River: The Ranger
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
187 pages

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.


  1. Sounds like a good'un.

  2. Kathleen,

    Another good review!

    Nice going Jim.


  3. Thanks, Frank and Charlie! Yep, Jim done a good'un with this tale. In fact, all of the books in the WEST OF THE BIG RIVER series are good reads. I'm impressed! Charlie, your THE FORTY-NINERS is next on my list. Looking forward to that one, because I'm not well-acquainted with that era or the folks involved. Knowing you, though, I will be once I've finished the book. ;-)

  4. Kathleen, I love these reviews of yours. You always manage to review books in such a way that you're able to let us know how exciting and interesting the reading is going to be without giving away any spoilers. That's a talent I do not have. LOL Great review!

  5. Thanks, Kathleen. I really appreciate the compliments. If you want to read the actual account of the real life stagecoach robbery which starts off THE RANGER, it's in Mike Cox's TEXAS RANGERS TALES II. Mike's TEXAS RANGERS TALES I and II are excellent reading for anyone interested in true stories of the Rangers.

  6. Cheryl, Jim's stories always interest me because he includes such a wealth of research about one of my favorite subjects: Texas Rangers. I've stepped over a spoilers line a time or two, I'm afraid, but I try not to do that. Thanks for dropping in! :-)

    Jim, I'm going to have to round up copies of Mike's books. My research shelves have two big holes in them, evidently! :-D One of the nicest experiences I've had in doing my own research about the Rangers has been dealing with the folks at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco. For such a small staff on such a limited budget, that gang is incredibly helpful. I know you've worked with them, too, and I suspect you found the same thing. :-)


  7. Funniest thing is when you call the Museum and they put you on hold instead of music or a short bit about the Rangers you get a message about the City of Waco water department and how to pay your water bill, among others. Since the Museum is part of the Waco city government, you get the generic city messages.

  8. With a review like this you can't help but want to read more about this Ranger. Dang..more books on the pile, but that's okay. Doris