By C.J. Sommers
Hale, August 2014
Benedict Trout, long-time foreman of the big K/K Ranch, has been cut loose for being old, and Eddie Guest, a new hire, has been fired for being too young. So with nowhere to go, Trout and Guest are riding west.
When they reach the RU Crooked Ranch they discover a place in terrible shape: run by a widow and her young daughter, the women are broke and without expectations. Standing at a crossroads, the ranch is coveted by the boss of a nearby town, Cyrus Sullivan, who is keen to investigate reports of a gold mine on the land.
The four unlikely allies are in this for the long haul, and must sit tight and fight long and hard to defend their shoestring operation against outlaws, thieves, and the greedy gold hunters.
This tale deals with how rumours can get out-of-hand; whispers of gold becoming truth without proof. As the believers gather to take the mine away by force so the tension rises. Just how can two men and two women defend the ranch against such strong opposition?
The story is told mainly through Trout, a man who just wants to ride on, but keeps finding an excuse to stay on the RU for just another couple of days no matter who much he says he wants to leave. This adds a gentle touch of humour to balance the coming threat of violence.
C.J. Sommers is a pseudonym used by Paul Lederer, and he has created some very likeable characters that you hope will all survive, and if they do, will hopefully return in another book. The story builds well, at an ever increasing pace to where Trout decides to take the war to Sullivan single-handedly.
Does Trout survive? Do his allies? Is there a gold mine on the RU? I can’t answer any of those questions here, but I’m sure you’ll be as entertained as I was finding out the answers.