4 stars

By Larry D. Sweazy

NY: Berkley Books, paper $5.99

Noblesville's Larry D. Sweazy launched his action-packed Western series with ex-Texas Ranger Josiah Wolfe mourning the recent deaths of his daughters and wife, an infant son to look after and poor prospects for making a living on his East Texas family farm. It's July 1872; 290 "keep-turning" pages later we've experienced a story of people in a time and place that still haunts, taunts and tempts us with a mysterious pull into a part of the American story so full of misconceptions and folklore as to make factual reference seem incorrect. Sweazy's meticulous research lays out the stuff we like to believe and picks it apart with something closer to the truth set within an engrossing story of law and disorder in the State of Texas. What sets Sweazy apart are his interior insights rounding each character with layered motivations for choices made at any particular moment. His poetic bent lifts descriptions beyond intellect into the heart. When Josiah rejoins the Rangers he comes squarely back into why he left. Facing off once again with Charlie Langdon as the antagonist, Josiah's personal interaction grows deeper, larger and disastrous as events escalate out of control. The final rescue is a hair-raiser. If Josiah makes you sit taller in the saddle through his commonsense bravery, you'll find yourself equally admiring the wisdom of Ofelia, the Mexican woman whose loyalty in caring for the infant son gives Josiah leave to be off with the Rangers full-time. Sweazy was born in Anderson, IN.

www.penguin.com

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