Out in west Texas, Tyler Steele, retired Texas Ranger, wife locked in rehab, must make sense of a life undone.
Martin’s (Where the River Ends, 2008, etc.) latest is a tale of love, loyalty, loss and unexpected reconciliation, topped off by ample violence. Driving through a foggy Texas night, Ty narrowly avoids a collision with a battered station wagon carrying Samantha Dyson and her young daughter Hope. Ty offers help. They are wary and resentful, but Ty gets their clunker running and shepherds them to a truck stop. Ty’s Ranger instincts tell him mother and daughter are running from trouble, a hunch proved true when a rogue San Antonio police officer, once Sam’s lover, attempts a kidnapping. Ty subdues him, but hears, “I’ll hunt you. Find you. Rid you of whatever or whoever you love.” Sam has a sister in New Orleans, and Ty drives them there, but the sister’s gone without a trace. Sam and Hope are in danger, and so Ty, duty and honor incarnate, brings them to his Texas ranch. Told from Ty’s point of view, with Hope’s letters to God offering outside perspective, the narrative covers Ty’s early life with his heroic father, his love for his young son Brodie, the collapse of his world after his wife took up drugs, expensive habits and a lover, and the painful knowledge his marriage failed because of his emotional isolation. Martin writes glowingly about Texas, about Rangers and their ethos, about merciless evil in the world and about the fragile bond between man and woman and the blood bond between father and son. Ty helps Sam escape her pursuer, but the story veers off when Ty’s wife is released from rehab, becoming something of an odd but entertaining hybrid of James Lee Burke's morality tales and Nicholas Sparks' sentimental journeys.
A John Wayne hero, multiple appreciations of the Colt Model 1911 and a cowboy-gets-the-girl romance in one readable package.