THE BIG BEND
RICHARD MEADE (AKA: BEN HAAS)
An intense Western dripping with great characters...Sam Ramsey owns a horse ranch in Texas in 1914. When his horses are stolen by a group of army deserters who supply Mexican revolutionaries. He pursues them into a harsh desert region called Big Bend. Along the way, he meets Nora Stewart, who's husband was murdered by a different set of bad guys. Traveling with Nora is a black man named Concho, whom we learn is a combat veteran who also knows how to survive in the desert. Sam, though tough, had never been in a gunfight aside from a brief one when his horses were stolen.
Sam and Concho initially clash with each other, but are soon working together after Nora is captured by the horse thieves. What follows is an extended and incredibly vivid scene in which the two men, carrying only one canteen and without horses or weapons, cross 40 miles of desert in a desperate attempt to rescue Nora. The action scene covering the actual rescue is also fantastic.
The 1914 setting also makes the book interesting. For most of the book, the story unfolds in ways that would be no different than if it was set in the 1870s. But at one point, a Lewis machine gun plays a vital role. Later, an airplane plays an equally vital role.
I'm not completely happy with how the books ends, but won't discuss details because I don't want to include spoilers. But that's a very subjective opinion and the book as a whole tells a fantastic and exciting tale.