Prolific author Spalsbury (Zorkon’s Secret, 2016, etc.) returns to the Old West for this fourth volume in his Hunt series.
James A. “Buff” Beaufait is the title character, but he is only one of the stars of this Western. There is Doc Whitfield, the medical man who wears a black cape and doubles as “the fastest gunfighter in the West”; Jaime Larson, proprietor of the Lead Sky Livery and Dray; Snort, the buffalo runner who quotes Shakespeare; and Sam Haddly, a former slave and current proprietor of the blacksmith shop. They make a formidable team. It is 1872 in the Montana Territory, which is filled with plenty of dangerous varmints to be confronted: a small party of Cheyenne warriors, the usual assortment of nasty crooks and murderers, and an abusive husband and father. Happily they are outflanked, if not always outnumbered, by the good guys: the peaceful Blackfoot Indians who are part of the Whitfield clan, the kindly citizenry ready to take in assorted orphans, and the clever, gunslinging heroes who are determined to civilize the territory. The shootouts, the pileup of bodies, and even the terror of Snort almost being burned at the stake are all lightened by Spalsbury’s omnipresent sense of humor, the quirky schemes he devises, and a joyful optimism. Underlying all the violence is a core belief in the power of the simple acts of friendship. Of the numerous subplots, the one about Crow Eye, “a young half-breed skinner,” fierce and terrifying with extraordinary tomahawk skills, is especially charming—watch his heart begin to melt when he rescues a puppy who falls asleep in his lap. Gun enthusiasts should enjoy the author’s attention to detail as he describes the plethora of weaponry called upon to do the job, complete with modifications and homemade bullets. The rollicking, action-driven novel has so many supporting characters that it is sometimes difficult to keep them all straight. But no matter; the quick pace should sustain readers over any temporary confusion, and by the end everyone in Chesterville, Montana, will likely become comfortably familiar.
A lighthearted, shoot’em-up romp in the Montana Territory—fans should be happy that the author plans two sequels to complete the series.