The story begins
Back in February I reviewed an entertaining Western novel, The Valles Caldera, by Gary L Stuart. It was the sequel to Ten Shoes Up (Cadence, 2015), which I have just read. Ten Shoes Up is good; in fact I think it’s better than the second one.
like because the author opts for a serial first-person approach, with the tale
told by various participants, and one describes our hero. He has dark red curls
reaching his coat collar, a ruddy face to match, bushy eyebrows and gray-green
eyes, and, natch, “a sculpted jaw made of wrought iron.”
attracted to Angus, and he reciprocates a bit (though you get the impression he
isn’t going to give up his vagabonding for either). Banker’s sister Addie, 22,
is the first and Flora, hotelier, a touch older, is the second.
pal Bo String, liveryman and deputy, who is like Angus in many ways (he talks
to his horse for one thing) and helps our hero get out of scrapes in both
Cimarron, at the St James Hotel, which you can still visit today, and you will
see the bullet holes in the tin ceiling, the origin of which Mr. Stuart
describes. Or you could see them when I was there in the mid-1990s.
dodgy with dangling modifiers aplenty and Mr. Stuart’s curious habit of
starting sentences with conjunctions but bringing them immediately to a halt
with a comma. But, you get used to it. Common nouns are occasionally capitalized,
there are misprints and confusions (breech
and breach, its and it’s, the verbs lay and lie) and you get the feeling that a better editor was required. Some
sentences are plain ugly: “A big, oversized light spun off light flashes off in
every direction as the train wobbled from side to side.” Still, I am
notoriously picky and will try to be less judgmental in future, although it is
true that I never make misstakes myself.
Shoes Up (which is the name of a New Mexico
mountain beloved by Angus) is a straight-down-the-trail traditional Western and
as such is enjoyable reading. Recommended.