Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Outrage at Blanco

Cover of latest edition
When I was growing up, Roy Rodgers was still “King of the Cowboys” and Gene Autry’s “Melody Ranch” was winding down a long run on CBS radio.  Roy and Gene were, of course, the good guys and they always handled black-hatted scoundrels with relative ease.  Well, I’m here to tell you that even Roy and Gene would have had their hands full with villains like those in Bill Crider’s western novel Outrage at Blanco

Set in the small-town Texas of 1887, Outrage at Blanco begins with a kick directly to the reader’s gut.  Ellie Taine, on her way back to the farm with a wagonload of groceries, encounters two cowboy psychopaths only a mile out of town where she is brutally raped and beaten by the men.  The cowboys plan to be in Blanco only as long as it takes to rob the town’s one bank, and not being at all worried about being called to account for the rape, they allow Ellie to live.  Bad mistake, that.

Ellie Taine has had enough, and after her husband fails in his own efforts to hold the men accountable for what they did to her, Ellie goes after them herself.  But she does not plan to bring these guys back to the sheriff when she finds them – she has other plans for their immediate future.  Outrage in Blanco, though, is more than just a shoot-‘em-up western.  Crider has populated little Blanco, Texas, with a whole cast of characters who get involved in everything from bank-robbing to incompetent attempts at heroism to living life at the fullest before it is forever too late to do so.  Some of them deserve a book all their own. 

Bill Crider
Crider pulls no punches (this is an adult western, for sure) in Outrage in Blanco but, in the end, this is a bit of a feel-good story with a lesson or two to teach along the way.  The body-count is high, and as opposed to the movies I grew up on, not just among the bad guys, but it is largely a character driven novel, so readers get the best of both worlds.  Fans of western novels need to check out this one.

(There is also a second Ellie Taine novel titled Texas Vigilante.)

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