The title pretty much sums up the whole concept of this fish-out-of-water tale, of a big-city Jewish railroad detective plunked down in the middle of the post-Civil-War Wild West to investigate an elaborately-planned and lethal robbery of a mail trail with a lot of money on board. The year is 1870; the detective is David Goldstein, an easterner with no discernable frontier-appropriate skills. He does have some skill at puzzle solving… and the gift of being able to speak coherently with his foot in his mouth up to his kneecap. On that thin resume, he is assigned by the owner of the railroad to hunt down the gang who blew up the K&P train with 22 people in it to cover their getaway with $200,000 of someone else’s’ money..

Eager to experience the West, which he has only known through dime novels, David at least has the wits to hire a gruff but competent ex-soldier and bounty-hunter to aid him in his search for the gang: “Red” Parker and his sidekick, Jake – of whom Red growls “He’s one of those fellers we have out West here, you may not have heard of back East. They’re called a**holes.” Joined by a silent Ute Indian tracker named White Crow and a lovely woman who claims to be a Pinkerton detective, this oddly assorted group is off on a wild romp through every western movie convention imaginable, except for the cattle ranch with no apparent cattle anywhere around.

The dialog snaps with wit, except for those occasional times when a moral lesson is being imparted; fortunately, that does not slow down the action very much. The writer has obviously had a wonderful time reassembling Old West conventions to kosher specifications, as well as making the point obvious that there was much more going on in the Wild West – and there was a greater variety of people encompassed in it – than it would seem from dime novels and their 20th century equivalents, the B-movie and the TV Western.

Shalom on the Range is available from Amazon.com. It is my understanding that a sequel is in the works, title undecided although “With Six-shooter You Get Egg-roll” is under consideration.

Sgt. Mom is a free-lance writer and member of the Independent Authors Guild who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her current book “To Truckee’s Trail” is available here. More about her books is at her website www.celiahayes.com

Be Sociable, Share!