Napierski (Moonin Canoe & White Owl: The Great Gold Heist of 1870, 2016), picking up where the first novel in his series left off, sends his two Lakota heroes, brothers Moonin Canoe and White Owl, off on another Old West adventure full of bad guys, high jinks, and low deeds.
The authorities have yet to recover all the missing gold from the 1870 train robbery in the last installment, but now they have bigger fish to fry. The ruthless and clever Silas Marless is planning to enrich the coffers of his California criminal enterprise, the Rice Factory, by acquiring claims to a few major gold mines on the southern side of the Black Hills. Marless’ late partner, Col. Fletcher Montgomery, split his gold claims between Marless and the Montgomery Ranch caretaker, Teddy Metz. U.S. Marshal Ed “Granny” Mondey, working together with Pinkerton inspector Tyrone “Butch” Zon, is out to stop Marless before the outlaw can appropriate Teddy’s share, start a new gold rush, and, ultimately, push the Lakotas off their land. He recruits Moonin and Owl to pick up Teddy at the Denver train station; unfortunately, it turns out that Teddy is no longer on the train. He may be 80 years old and going senile, but he’s a wily survivor, and it takes almost half the book for Moonin and Owl to track him down. Along the way, the novel is populated by a voluminous secondary cast of miscreants, including corrupt politicians, deadly gun slingers, and a slew of repulsive “enforcers” and their coteries. Happily, Napierski provides a list of characters up front, but it won’t do much to help readers trying to keep track of the numerous subplots and assorted ulterior motives. Still, this is a rollicking, shoot-’em-up farce, filled with brutish players who ultimately get their just deserts. Despite his overuse of adolescent bathroom humor, Napierski does skillfully provide succinct, vivid character descriptions: “With his big bushy beard dripping cigar drool, hairy paws, and country charm, Beales resembled a bear in buttons.”
Too cluttered, but with sympathetic heroes and its free-for-all shenanigans, it will likely amuse genre fans.