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A family shattered by the Civil War and its aftermath makes an arduous journey toward solace and redemption.

Tom, Mary and their teenage son Jack are carving out a life for themselves at the Bar T Ranch in Texas when an old friend from Virginia rides up and convinces Tom to fight for the Confederacy. While Tom feels no sense of loyalty to the citizens of the state he used to call home, who spurned Mary because of her Cherokee ancestry, he does feel a strong enough connection to his friend, Will, to risk his life as a soldier. In her husband’s long absence, Mary hires a local boy named Jamie to help with ranch work, from whom Jack learns how to handle horses, ropes and women. After the war ends, fate deals a final blow to the habitants of the Bar T Ranch–Jack learns about death and, subsequently, vengeance. After honing his gun skills with the help of a mysterious new ranch hand, Jack sets out to find the renegades who destroyed his family, eventually discovering that justice comes with both a high price and invaluable knowledge about himself and his heritage. Written in the tradition of classic western dramas, Ride for Justice satisfies readers’ need for hot-footed action, down-and-dirty romance and even offers a few moral lessons about the universal contradictions of war and the complexity of relations among races before, after and during the Civil War. The writing is easy to comprehend and enjoy, though readers might find themselves confused when time jumps ahead several paces, as during Jamie’s first foray into battle. A few scenes might also have benefited from a slower treatment–each death passes with minimal fuss and would have had a stronger effect if more attention had been allotted. But generally Harte is a competent writer with a solid grasp of what readers of westerns want.

An entertaining, well-written ride into the sunset.

Pub Date: May 12th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0595698509
Program: Kirkus Indie
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