A GUN FOR JOHNNY DEERE
WAYNE D. OVERHOLSER
REVIEWED BY TIM DEFOREST
Star City is a decaying town run by Bull Tatum, the local big rancher. When Bull's son accidentally dies in a fight with the hot-headed Johnny Deere, the townspeople force Johnny to make a run for it rather than risk a confrontation that could put the entire town at risk.
Soon, a paid gunslinger is on Johnny's trail, but Johnny soon gets tired of running. This leads to a strong story backed up by some very sharp characterizations.
The novel covers about nine months and during that time, Johnny's gradual growth into a more mature adult is handled realistically and with empathy. I also enjoy the way he is shown to win gunfights using intelligent and unexpected tactics.
Johnny's character arc is counter-pointed by alternating chapters set back in Star City, where the one town citizen Johnny thinks of as a friend proves to have his own treacherous agenda and gradually degenerates into a manipulative and murderous villain.
When Johnny meets a woman he wants to marry, he decides he must first return to Star City to resolve the situation. He knows he has to confront Bull Tatum, but has no idea he also needs to deal with the man he considers to be his best friend.