KANSAS BLUE by Dylan Harson


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 A ``New Western'' with nothing terribly new--by the pseudonymous Harson. Austin Bourke's stage company is endangered by the railroad, so he grudgingly accepts a commission to escort a mixed bag of homesteaders across Kansas--a Mormon with two wives and a pretty daughter; a shell-shocked Civil War vet and his wife; a half-breed; and a young married couple and the man's father. Off the intrepid travelers go, venturing into the wilds of post-Civil War Kansas, and for the next 250 miles (and seemingly as many pages) suffering a litany of woes. Pregnant Ingrid Corle is kidnapped by Indians while bathing; then three strangers come by, stating that they've just happened upon the woman's ravaged body but left it unburied. This is only the first death. Kiowa, the half-breed, hides. These men are his half-brothers, renegades who once left him for dead. You know he will avenge himself. Time goes by; miles drift away. Arrows, floods, bullets, and cholera kill off the homesteaders one or more at a time. Plus Kiowa's half-brothers. Plus Indians, but in greater volume since they're more plentiful. Love and lust also beset the group. The Mormon diddles with his young daughter. Several rapes and near-rapes occur. Real love does, too. Bourke, meanwhile, falls for Danni, the vet's wife, and she reciprocates. Conveniently, her husband goes wacko, then gets shot. Kiowa takes up with one of the Mormon's wives. At the end, only these four are left. Western aficionados won't find much here to like. Modernisms abound (``cultural confusion,'' ``the colors are all wrong for her'')--and the plot is so suspenseless and the description so meager that but for an adjective now and then the story could be set anywhere, anytime. Dig up Louis L'Amour, dust off Will Henry, reread Lonesome Dove.

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 1993
ISBN: 1-55611-375-7
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Donald Fine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1993