Authors Showcase: All about The West
July 12, 2012
The Book: Dark Prairies
The Author: R. S. Guthrie
The Book: In the taming of the West, the prairies, they bled. There was war between the white man and the Native American, the outlaw against the honorable, the harsh elements against anything that crawled or thirsted – yet as scurrilous and unforgiving as bloodletting always is, much still represented a kind of progress toward the future. Not always fair; not always judicious; not always kind.
But it is 2012, and though we call ourselves more civilized, little has changed. The greedy still steal the land, the rich still get richer, murder still happens. Dark Prairies is set in the prime of the twenty-first century Wyoming gas boom, when some landowners become rich and others get nothing but ruined roads; fortunes are made or lost on what some would call a toss of the legal dice.
When a terrible murder rocks a small town – when Sheriff James Pruett himself loses his beloved – the prairies, they WILL bleed again. How many will die this time, in honor and in vain?
In this, his third novel, R.S. Guthrie believes that he has delivered his magnum opus. Dark Prairies carves into the raw, twenty-first century West at both its worst and its finest hours and does so in the depths of an ocean of both loyalty and greed.
A Review by Trish Gentry: “The writing talent of R. S. Guthrie explodes in this break-out novel. The West was won a long time ago, the victims and heroes filling it’s ground six feet under. But greed never dies or the lust for power.
“Sheriff Pruett watched as the lifeblood of his wife drained into the dirt, her brother charged with murder; their estranged daughter hires the lawyer to defend her mother’s killer. R. S. Guthrie leads us through a maze of family betrayal, government corruption and inner demons. Each turn of the page brings a new twist and will leave you guessing what is going to happen next.
“Heart-stopping action, heart-wrenching scenes. The ending brings it all home and gives you the answers you were not expecting. Only R. S. Guthrie could pull this off.”
A Review by Bert Carson: “Before you read this review, you should know that R.S. Guthrie is a friend of mine. That doesn’t mean that I’m biased. It just means that I got a copy of the book before it “went live.” However, now you have the advantage. You get to savor each page, meet Sheriff Pruett, his family, his neighbors, and walk in his world. I’ve already done that and I loved every minute of the trip.
It’s a rule, writers talk about their projects, and Rob Guthrie isn’t an exception to that rule. That means I waited on Dark Prairies for a long, long, time. When I finally received my review copy I decided to pace myself, read slowly, savor each word. I began that way, and I was good for a couple of paragraphs; sort of like a roller coaster slowly climbing its first mountain.
“Three pages later, just like a kid on a roller coaster, I paused and thought, so far so good, and then I put my eyes back on the story, the roller coaster tipped over the edge, and I went with it.
“So much for savor: I’ll do that on the second read.
“Whether you know Rob Guthrie or not, whether you like westerns or not, whether old men with long shadows are your thing, or not, you’re going to love Dark Prairies.
“If you’re waiting for me to tell you why, you should know right here, right now, I’m not going to – if you like good books, buy this one and find out for yourself. You won’t be disappointed. I expect more from books than I should and I damn sure wasn’t disappointed.”
The Book: The Long Shooters
The Author: Daniel C. Chamberlain
The Story: In the grinding death mill of the trenches of Petersburg, Virginia, in the closing days of the Civil War, a Union sharpshooter – a “long-shooter” named Ballou – emerges as the best sniper in a war where wholesale slaughter became the norm. Ballou perfected the art of the judicious killer. His ability with his cherished Stephens target rifle is legendary, making a nearly miraculous shot that no one else – North or South – could accomplish. After the war, he disappears…
Samuel Roark is a small-time rancher and part-time lawyer. One personal tragedy after another leaves Samuel gripped by periodic bouts of depression. When a hidden marksman of uncommon skill murders his son, the death leaves Samuel on the brink of total madness.
Roark’s wife Sarah, a woman of strength, grace and startling beauty is now both emotionally and physically exhausted by the tragic circumstances that have beset her family. After discovering her husband’s quest for revenge, she does everything in her power to prevent what she fears will ultimately destroy him.
Matthew Shaw is a known manhunter and soldier of fortune that people call on when they’re willing to pay someone else to deal with obstacles in their lives. When required, Shaw reluctantly uses his considerable marksmanship to achieve those ends. Now Shaw finds himself caught between a job he truly believes in, and a very good reason to walk away when he realizes he’s falling in love with Sarah, the wife of the man who hired him.
A Review by Carl Brush: “This is a mystery within a love story within deftly written frontier saga. Chamberlain’s language is as simple and clean and on-target as the rifles his protagonist and antagonist employ as the tools of their trade. And the technical details of his descriptions invest every scene with the clarity of a mountain stream.
“The tale spends much of its time in that ever-fascinating space between what is beyond the reach of the law, but still moral; between what is legally permissible and what is just. Still and all, it’s not a preachy morality play, but a story deeply enmeshed in the flesh and blood and emotions of some compelling characters whose conflicts and motivations make for mysterious twists that keep the reader guessing.”
A Review by Mudhen: It’s rare to find a really good mystery set in the old west. This is especially true if the story accurately features the long arms and sidearms that were everyday tools for those who made their living dealing with crime and punishment, both within and outside the law. Unlike many westerns, The Long Shooters has an intricate plot with an engaging set of twists and turns, along with a somewhat surprising ending. The background and details of the novel are very well-researched.
“Mr. Chamberlain spins a convincing tale of life and death in the mountains of late 19th century Colorado. This is an extremely engaging mystery with a suite of well developed characters about whom the reader can really come to care. It is certainly one of the very best western novels that I have had the pleasure of reading. I heartily recommend it.”