I’ve never been disappointed by a book written by James Reasoner because the characters, setting, and plot always ring true. Dialog and action are well balanced. The narrative, clear and straight-forward. It‘s all there in Redemption, Kansas, the first in the Redemption series.
It was my pleasure to discover the title on a rack at my local HyVee grocery store. Unlike so much of what I read, I didn’t learn about this title on the web before seeing it for sale. Instead, I just happened upon it—just like in the old days. A surprise that brought back one of the great joys of buying physical books in a pre-Internet world.
After an exceptionally hard week at work, I read the book in three sittings before bed. The house was quiet, the weather was good, and Reasoner’s slick prose reminded me why reading is my favorite pastime.
None of that would matter though if the story, a traditional western, didn’t rise above the typical formula. It does, because Reasoner puts familiar characters into new, uniquely dangerous, and suspense filled situations.
Injured Texan Bill Harvey, laid up in a Kansas town controlled by back-shooters Marshal Frank Porter and Deputy Zach Norris, is a stranger in a strange land. Not only did I immediately identify with Harvey, I also recognized the sheer improbability of his winning the day.
To paraphrase Lester Dent’s guidelines for pulp fiction—Reasoner piles the trouble on Bill—and just when you think he’s had enough, another load comes down. It’s great stuff that carried me through to a satisfying conclusion. Highly recommended.
CONTRIBUTOR: RICHARD PROSCH