Slade River

An old-fashioned Western extolling the heroic exploits of two Texas Rangers in the 1800s.

Shambley offers a debut historical novella in the style of a buddy movie. Mike Rivers was a bounty hunter who always got his man before he became the sheriff of Applegate, Texas. One day, he returns home after tracking a killer to discover that the Clayton brothers, whom he’d arrested some years ago, have murdered his wife and son. Rivers resigns as sheriff, tracks down the Claytons, and is about to exact vengeance when he runs into Texas Ranger Tom Slade. The lawman intervenes, arrests the brothers, and then convinces Rivers to join him as a Ranger. The narrative is divided into five sections; in the first, the two main characters become partners, and the rest detail various episodes over the course of the next several years. For some reason, Shambley sets the second section, “Rustlers,” 15 years after the first, while the third, “Payday,” jumps back 14 years. As a result, the episodes seem more like stand-alones than a continuing story. There are some mysteries to solve (who’s stealing cattle in “Rustlers”; who’s behind the stagecoach robberies in “Payday”), a few gunfights, and some light banter. Mike is shot at in “Lost” and gets knocked unconscious when he falls off his horse; an old mountain man cares for him while he gradually recovers from amnesia. (His trusty and very protective dog, Sam, never leaves his side.) Mike is shot at again in the final section, “Friends In Need.” By the end of this quick read, Shambley makes it clear the two friends, despite some mishaps, will continue to protect and serve. The narrative is plot-driven, simple, and competent, with minimal character definition or development, although readers do find out more information about Mike than they do about Tom. It’s easy to imagine the two staring down bad guys in an old, clean TV Western, such as Gunsmoke. The pace is comfortable throughout, and the format lends itself to readers casually and sporadically picking the book up for quick distractions. A pleasant escape that’s light on tension, suitable for fans of the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5245-4635-9

Page Count: 102

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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