Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Black Powder Justice (Wilderness #6) by David Robbins writing as David Thompson

Since the Wilderness series was released in audio form, I've been trying to catch with entries I missed, particularly the earlier ones. Read by Rusty Nelson and published by Books in Motion, these books are truly fine Westerns well-read by a professional. The most recent one I heard is Black Powder Justice, the sixth book, originally published in the early 1990s.

Nate King is hunting buffalo for himself and his five-months-pregnant Shoshone wife, Winona, when it begins to snow. In the mountains of 1835, this is not a small matter. Getting a large chunk of meat for now, he heads home. But the blood draws a pack of wolves, who work steadily to attack Nate and wear him down in their typical style. Eventually he fall prey to the cold and loss of blood.

In the midst of his recovery, Nate and Winona venture outdoors to investigate a noise and return to a home invader -- a human one. Before long, the Kings are prisoners in their own home, and soon Nate is knocked out.  When he wakes up, he finds everyone else -- and all the food -- is gone.

Uses his copious survival skills, his respect for others, and the fame gained by killing a grizzly bear using only a knife to not only retrieve his wife, but also gain the respect of a Ute brave while forcefully borrowing his horse.

David Robbins wrote the Wilderness series under the pseudonym David Thompson until recently.  As of series entry #67 (The Gift), he has begun using his own name.  Under either name, the author is a natural storyteller with a true gift for authentic characterization -- he shows us in Black Powder Justice that even a stoic Indian woman can get insecure when her husband calls another woman's name in his sleep -- and for lengthy descriptive passage that don't feel like filler.

The Devil Gets His Due by Peter Brandvold (Lou Prophet Western series)

The first Peter Brandvold novel I read was The Devil Gets His Due, and it set off an appreciation for the man's writing that has continued to this day. It was out of print for quite some time, but now Piccadilly Publishing has rereleased it in ebook form. Below is reprinted the review written by that first-time reader just discovering Brandvold's talent for the first time.

Lou Prophet is a bounty hunter. His motto is you don't stop until the job is done. So, when he met up with Louisa Bonaventure in Minnesota during her search for revenge on the Red River Gang that killed her family, he decided to help her out. Partly because of the reward on their leader, Handsome Dave Duvall, but also because Louisa, whom Prophet dubbed "The Vengeance Queen," was only 17 years old and might be in need of some assistance (and protection).

Since then, the duo have whittled the formerly 20 members of the Red River Gang down to one: Duvall himself, and Prophet wants to take him alone and, if possible, alive. It's part of the bounty hunter code. But "Miss Bonny-venture" wants Duvall for herself, as well, and is willing to die for the pleasure.

The Devil Gets His Due is the fourth novel by author Peter Brandvold to feature bounty hunter Lou Prophet. A prolific writer, Brandvold is the author of multiple series, including the Sheriff Stillman Once books, the Cuno Massey .45-Caliber series, and the Rogue Lawman books. He also writes under the pseudonym Frank Leslie and is reportedly one of the stable of authors writing regularly for the long-running Longarm series.

Based on the evidence of The Devil Gets His Due, Brandvold will be a new favorite. He starts out with action and keeps it coming. His grasp of character is modern yet authentic to the period, and I especially enjoyed that he doesn't take the traditional route regarding an expected love interest between Prophet and Louisa. This alone let me know I was reading a writer of imagination and originality. I've already added three more of his novels to my collection, hoping to sample each of his series in turn. Then I hope to track down some of his newest books.
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