Title: Blood Land
Author: RS Guthrie
Format: Kindle Edition
Size: 459 kb – 202 pages
Interest: Action/Crime Drama
Rating 0-100: 94 (5 Stars)
In the taming of the West, the prairies, they bled. There was war between the white man and the Native American, the outlaw against the honorable, the harsh elements against anything that crawled or thirsted—yet as scurrilous and unforgiving as bloodletting always is, much still represented a kind of progress toward the future. Not always fair; not always judicious; not always kind.
But it is 2012, and though we call ourselves more civilized, little has changed. The greedy still steal the land, the rich still get richer, murder still happens. Dark Prairies is set in the prime of the twenty-first century Wyoming gas boom, when some landowners become rich and others get nothing but ruined roads; fortunes are made or lost on what some would call a toss of the legal dice.
When a terrible murder rocks a small town—when Sheriff James Pruett himself loses his beloved—the prairies, they WILL bleed again. How many will die this time, in honor and in vain?
In this, his third novel, R.S. Guthrie has delivered his magnum opus. Dark Prairies carves into the raw, twenty-first century West at both its worst and its finest hours and does so in the depths of an ocean of both loyalty and greed.
Oil may be big in Texas, but in Wyoming gas is the golden fortune. If you remember the famous feuds between J.R. and Bobby Ewing from Dallas then you will no doubt recognize the greed and ruthless nature of the McIntyre clan. When an inheritance of land is split unevenly between family members it’s only a matter of time before the first chess piece is moved. Sheriff Pruett’s wife is soon caught in the crossfire, and the lawman finds his sense of duty and honor are put on the line as he tries to hold his vengeance in check. His wife’s killer, her own brother, is arrested and locked up to await trial. With revenge on his mind, and alcohol on his breath for the first time in more than a dozen years of sobriety, Sheriff Pruett starts to slide down a hole that threatens to encompass his very soul.
This is the third book by Rob Guthrie (@RSGuthrie on Twitter) that I’ve reviewed and it’s a charm. Before I give you the good and bad of Blood Land, in what I hope will be an unbiased review, let me state for the record that I’m a huge fan of Guthrie. As an author in training and still struggling with my own magnum opus, I respect what he as accomplished as a writer. More importantly, I respect the man. Rob Guthrie encourages and supports those trying to learn the craft of telling a good story. His blog, Rob On Writing, helped introduce me to the indie author community, and for that I will be forever grateful. Now, let’s get to the good stuff.
Obviously it’s a good book or I wouldn’t bother reviewing it. One of the things I loved most about this book is the easy, western style dialog. It helped bring these characters to life faster than I would have thought possible. Typically I need to read a chapter or two before getting into the story, and that wasn’t the case with this novel. Here’s an example…
“Sheriff,” Ty finally said.
“Yep,” Pruett answered, his finger steady on the trigger guard. “That rifle loaded, Ty?”
“Wouldn’t be much of a rifle if it weren’t.”
“You know where Roland is, Ty?”
Ty pointed toward the back door.
“Took a powder,” he said. “Weren’t much jaw in him. Not like usual.”
“Ty, I’m taking you in. Just two ways that happens.”
The dialog also helps set the scenes. The locations are vivid enough to pull you in and put you right in the middle of the action, which there is plenty of by the way. The death of Sheriff Pruett’s wife was just the beginning. A fortune is on the line, and even a lawman can be tempted if the price is high enough.
The book promises action and it delivers; not a pizza kind of delivery either. No, this was much more in line with having a Tomahawk Cruise Missile sail through your front door and explode in your favorite reading chair.
There are quite a few things in this book that you never see coming. The unexpected twists will keep you guessing long after you think the villains are identified. Guthrie walks a fine line here, and pulls it off with few exceptions.
Some of the unexpected twists are so unexpected it’s like playing poker with an unknown. Just when you think you’ve figured it all out, the game changes. I’m not saying this is totally bad, but it makes for an interesting game.
Without giving away significant parts of the plot, let me say that there are a couple of character situations that were unexpected. During much of the read I felt in the novel, and in a couple of parts I felt like I was reading one. Again, that’s not too bad if it’s a good story; which it is.
The goal of a review is to express an opinion in the hope that others may find the information useful. Would I recommend this book? Yes, without question or reservation. The characters are memorable, and the action will keep you turning the pages. I freely admit to getting less than two hours sleep the other night, and during a workweek I might add. Overall, it’s a great read and I think you will enjoy it.