Debut author Liddycoat presents a shoot-’em-up cowboy tale, set in the lawless American West.
It’s 1885, and 17-year old Oregonian Jacob Scot, who recently received “a small fortune” as an inheritance from his grandparents, boards an eastbound train. He travels just 300 miles before the lush valley around Baker City catches his attention, and he steps off at the two-hour stopover to explore his surroundings. In his new city clothes, he appears “rich, young, and naïve—a prime target for the…predators in the booming town.” Criminal Hans Klause pushes him into an alley and Jess, Hans’ brother, stuns him with a blow to the head. But Jacob rallies, cracks Jess’s skull with an iron bar, and is about to hit Hans again when he hears the sheriff’s second warning: “Drop the bar or I will shoot you right here and now!” This is the first of many difficult situations that Jacob faces in this engaging, complex morality tale. The protagonist is repeatedly challenged to control his anger, which seems to consume him whenever he’s threatened. Soon “the Colonel,” a wealthy cattle rancher who observed the aforementioned fight, hires Jacob as a cowboy, and he’s placed under the tutelage of ranch hand Willem “Whitey” McKey, an experienced gunslinger. Jacob goes on to interact with numerous bad guys, and he meets a sex worker who wins his heart. Over the course of this book, Liddycoat creates extensive backstories for an assortment of characters, and he methodically explores how emotional pain and the desire for revenge can inspire men to make bad decisions. Straightforward, succinct prose (“Time froze. The needful something that rose in Jacob now wanted to kill….Jacob’s thumb reached to cock the gun”) and page-turning adventure will keep readers thoroughly engaged.
An entertaining and thought-provoking examination of Western vigilante justice.