by Elmer Kelton
Publishers Weekly As gratifying as a McMurtry side plot and with more gritty excitement than just about any Hollywood cowboy flick, this outing highlights the post-Civil War limbo suffered by the Texas Rangers. Andy Pickard, a 10-year-old half-wild captive of the Comanches, is forced from the tribe for killing a bully and is rescued by former Texas Ranger Rusty Shannon, who "adopts" Andy when his only relative refuses to take him in. The Rangers, formed before the Civil War, were exempt from service; they were scorned by the men who chose the Confederate cause and distrusted by the corrupt carpetbag Union government that disbanded them. Working hard, and with the help of a small network of friends, Rusty has made a go of his hardscrabble ranch in an area ravaged by carpetbagger greed, corrupt Unionist state police, war-born malice and poverty, and fierce, frequent Indian raids. Rusty's unstable life with Andy teeters on the brink of collapse when his old nemeses, the Oldham Brothers, local thugs in league with a corrupt judge, steal his ranch and burn out a freed slave, Shanty, a friend under Rusty and Andy's protection. Events reach dynamite levels when the Comanches kidnap the son of Rusty's old love, and teenage Andy must try for a rescue when Rusty is wounded and out of action. Kelton covers a wide swath of history with aplomb, illuminating a little-known period in Western history. California is still Mexican, Indians are a real threat and outlaws rule the land in this rough-riding adventure tale. Author tour. (Dec.) Forecast: After 37 novels, Kelton's third entry (after Badger Boy) in the Texas Rangers series could cross genre lines and expand his already substantial fan base. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Book list Texas is reeling from the aftershocks of the Civil War. The state is run by a corrupt, usurious carpetbag government. Loyalties are suspect as veterans of both sides eye each other suspiciously, and the occasional Comanche war party wreaks havoc on the ranchers. Rusty Shannon, who was kidnapped by the Comanche as a child, rescues 10-year-old Andy Pinkard from the same fate. Andy's memories are all Comanche, and he struggles to adjust to the white life. Meanwhile, the young son of a woman Rusty once loved is kidnapped by the Comanche, and two rivals from Rusty's Texas Ranger days arrive as representatives from the corrupt state government and twist the law to confiscate Rusty's ranch. Kelton, who's been producing award-winning novels for 40 years, continues his tradition of compassionate, character-driven, historically correct fiction. In this probing examination of conflicted loyalties, the heroes are those who recognize the conflicts and struggle to minimize them, and the villains are those who exacerbate tensions in an effort to benefit personally. No one does it better than Kelton; his latest is a must for any western collection. --Wes Lukowsky
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.