SHADOWS IN THE DUSK by John Jennings


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A new regional setting for Jennings, but again he has chosen to pick a little known facet of the days of the young nation for his background. The scene and time involve those days when Texas had declared for freedom from Mexico; when Santa Fe was the terminus for trade caravans- and still belonged to Mexico; when Indian hate and distrust flamed high. Things were not happy in Santa Fe. Tempers flared fast. The story starts with a fight between the ""great black Coronel Raoul"" and the teller of the tale, Currito, professional scout and guide, when Senor Coronel refused to pay the fee for safe delivery in Santa Fe. Circumstances decreed that their paths would cross again- as Currito undertook to guide some trappers to Santa Rita- and a crown of cut-throats, led by his enemy joined them. Then in Santa Rita, where he'd lost his heart to Pepita, native to the place, he learns of a plot to bring the Indians together- and kill and scalp them for the bounty. He warns the giant Indian, Mangas Colorado, but not in time to prevent a massacre. And then- when the survivors of the town join forces to escape, the Indians repay with interest. Everyone is slain, except Currito, his two Yankee friends, the blond temptress, Dona Luis -- and Pepit. So, with due measure of good fortune, the four one would choose to save, escape -- and live happily ever after.... Not up to Jennings' best (Sea Eagle, Rogue's Yarn), for this seems fortuitous in the finale, difficult in the reading because of the Mexican- American patois attempt, and superficial in the characterizations. Disappointing.

Publisher: Little, Brown