Hidden treasure, a young girl on the run and revenge-minded scoundrels with itchy trigger fingers populate Robert’s (Treasure at El Dorado, 2011) second Western novel.
While evading a band of Apaches in the Sonoran Desert, Bo Logan stumbles upon a hidden valley with a cabin and a productive gold mine. He also discovers letters; unsure of what’s happened to the miner, Bo takes it upon himself to locate the man’s daughter, Bonnie. The girl, meanwhile, manages to escape the atrocious confines of a workhouse and begins a demanding journey to find her father, Tom. A deadly encounter in a saloon has the villainous John Skinner and his men on Bo’s trail, too. Roberts’ book has all the indications of a Western—strength is measured by how quickly a man can draw his gun—but it’s the dramatic resolve that truly drives the story. Bo in particular is literally surrounded by narrative stimuli: Bonnie somewhere ahead of him; Mary, a cafe owner in Tucson who catches Bo’s eye and heart; and the men behind him who would very much prefer him dead. The storyline benefits from its colorful cast of characters, including an undercover U.S. Marshal and a dirty sheriff. A variety of motives propel them: Bo and Bonnie searching separately for Bonnie’s father, an Apache man looking for his wife’s killer, and a greedy professor from Bonnie’s old school with a one-track mind for profits. Bonnie’s trek makes up the majority of the novel’s more profound passages in a plot thread that is also frequently woeful; fortunately, Roberts eases the tension with welcome bits of comic relief, e.g., Bonnie, posing as a boy, standing in the wrong line for the restroom. Notably, Roberts allows the narrative twist to slowly build and naturally reveal itself, without nudging or eye-winking.
Fans of the Western genre are sure to find much to love, but the appealing story and characters could also appease all types of readers.