The Long Shooters: A murder mystery disguised as a western
June 20, 2015
FOR MOST OF MY LIFE, I have been intrigued and fascinated with the American West. As an old cowboy once told me, the West was a place where the only the strong ever came. The weak didn’t get that far. And the cowards never started. It took a rare breed to survive the rugged, unforgiving days of the Old West. No one ever tamed it.
As a result, I have long felt a kinship with the writers of Westerns. My early days were spent cooped up within the covers of novels written by Zane Gray and Luke Short. The Western captured the best and the worst of mankind, those who fought desperately to take their land and fought just as desperately to keep it.
Now comes a new writer of the Western, Daniel C. Chamberlain, and his novel, The Long Shooters, faithfully carries on the spirit of a great tradition.
The story is a classic.
Ballou is a sharpshooter who wore Yankee blue in the War Between the States.
The conflict has ended.
The last gunshots have died away.
A nation is torn asunder.
It lies in ruin.
Soldiers have scattered.
Most are on the long road home.
Ballou has disappeared.
War had trained him to be a killer.
Is that his legacy?
Is that the only future he can imagine?
Or can he escape?
Will he become another man with another name?
Will time and fate ever allow him to live in peace?
Perhaps he will be able to find solace and peace and redemption for his sins in the empty prairies of the American West.
But has he fled his old life, or did he bring it with him to Colorado?
Has Ballou become Matthew Shaw, a hired gun, a man hunter, a soldier of fortune, willing to do the job the others can’t do, won’t do, or are afraid to do?
The Long Shooters remains an enigma wrapped within the dark, bitter confines of a mystery.
It is the story of life and love.
It is the story of life and death.
It tears at the very fabric of a man’s conscience, his responsibility, and his loyalty.
A small-time rancher has faced one tragedy after another.
Life has been hard.
Often it’s worse.
He has three important pieces in his life: a beautiful wife, a son, and his land.
A killer takes his son.
The shot came from far away.
It was fired by an expert marksman.
It was fired by a man like Matthew Shaw.
The rancher has reached his breaking point and hires Shaw to track down a cold-blooded murderer.
The long shooter is entangled within his own emotions.
He knows he will find the killer.
He knows he will avenge the death of a boy.
But he is weary of death.
He would rather walk away.
He would rather walk away with the wife of the small-time rancher.
But she is so beautiful.
And Shaw’s in love with her.
The novel is set in the American West. It takes place in the years following the Civil War. And the story definitely has all of the ingredients of a traditional Western. But, in some ways, that sells the novel short.
It is the story of one man’s search for a murderer.
Yet, in reality, it is the story of one man’s search for himself.
Daniel C. Chamberlain has written a piece of literary fiction trapped in a web of human emotion. What’s right? What’s wrong? What’s duty? What will or won’t last in a time that no one can ever forget simply because a long shooter rode into town one day, and no would ever be quite the same again.