Page-turning excitement for fans of old-fashioned Westerns, with a satisfying final reveal.




This sixth installment of a series finds the eponymous Texas hero once again facing off against the minions of a Philadelphia-based former Union officer hellbent on having him killed.

It is 1865, the Union has occupied Texas, and James Stevens, a young carpetbagger from up North, is a powerful state legislator in Austin. He is the loathsome Frank McGrew’s man in Texas. As per instructions received from Philadelphia, Stevens is implementing a complicated plan that will rid McGrew of rancher John Lee Johnson—and add to the legislator’s fortune. Stevens orders his henchman T-Dilly Whitaker to organize the kidnapping of John’s cousin Duchess Thompson. This will force John into a contract to fight El Toro de Sanchez in a place called “the pit” on the edge of Mexico’s Chihuahua Desert. Meanwhile, in Baileysboro, Texas, bank president Seth Johnson (another of John’s cousins) is looking for a wife. He has recently rescued four little girls and wants to adopt them, but Texas law won’t permit that until he marries. Then there is the mystery surrounding G.W. Lambert, an older fellow who signs on as a ranch hand working with young Sand Burr Rogers, John’s most trusted ramrod. The various storylines ultimately intersect but not before a plethora of gunfights leaves the landscape littered with bodies. There is little time for character development in this action-driven, rip-roaring Wild West novel with so many players even the author occasionally has trouble keeping them all straight—in two instances, he refers to Sand Burr as Seth. Although the breakneck pace never slackens, Hamlett (John Lee Johnson Will Hurt You BadReal Bad, 2017, etc.) manages to include moments of charming tenderness. In an approximation of a morality play, bad guys are destroyed by their own desires for revenge and good guys are rewarded for their unexpected acts of kindness. John is rather comically huge—tall, with a “thick neck corded with ropelike tendons and powerful shoulders that were a yard wide”—but he is a most enjoyable lead.

Page-turning excitement for fans of old-fashioned Westerns, with a satisfying final reveal.

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4582-2195-7

Page Count: 246

Publisher: AbbottPress

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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