He turned to Laramie and the gunfighter could see the fear in his eyes. The last time he’d seen a panicked look like that was on the face of a shave-tail lieutenant at the battle of Brandy Station, back when he’d been a young cavalry captain in command of a troop in the civil war.
“Hey,” he leaned forward in his saddle and slapped the young man across the face, “blow that damned thing.”
The young bugler’s eyes seemed to focus and he yelled above the din, “What?”
“Blow your damned bugle.”
“But what’ll I blow?”
“Retreat God damn it,” Laramie cursed at him.
“But the inspector …”
Laramie drew his right side Remington and pointed it at the young man’s head, “Just blow it before we all die out here.”
It was a gang of cold-blooded killers who massacred the cavalry patrol and stole the Gatling guns. It would take a hard man to retrieve them.
After Laramie is freed from the Mexican jail he’d been locked in for the previous two months, he heads north for Canada and into the realm of a crazed killer who wants to carve out his own kingdom in the pristine wilderness.
Massacres are followed by murder, until it comes to a head in the Moose River Valley, where Laramie will stand shoulder to shoulder with the men of the North West Mounted Police in what is a fight to the death.
This is the third of the Laramie books that I’ve read, and the third one that I have thoroughly enjoyed. I’ll freely admit that Westerns are not my normal genre of choice, but Dunn has carved himself a place in my list that I don’t think he’ll ever loose.
Each of the books is set in a different place, and so there is fresh world building that has to be done. Dunn does an excellent job transporting you back to the Old West, where outlaws and hired guns are the norm, and civilization is the exception. In “Slaughter”, Dunn revisits a few places from his earlier books and does a nice job feathering in reminders of what is where, and who the important people are.
The character development continues at the same high quality that the Laramie books started out with. The old friends from previous books are sketched in quickly (OK, they are sketched in with physical descriptions, but since it’s only done once, and is a quick sketch I don’t mind. It might be a different case if you are reading the books back to back. Then, it might get a touch repetitive.) The new cast is brought in smoothly, each with a quick physical sketch from which the rest of the character development builds from. And, yes, the bad guys are right out in the open about it. Makes it more fun in this case!
The pace for this installment is nicely done – it has a quick tempo, and doesn’t bog you down in the transition scenes when the various groups are moving from one point to another. There is a slight difficulty in keeping track of how much time passes, which did throw a touch of cold water on one scene because time was an important part of the action.
Overall, this is a solid addition to the series, with a rich and varied tapestry for the story to play out. The hiccup with timing in the one scene isn’t quite enough to pull a full half star, but I can’t quite justify giving a full five out of five. So, I guess I’ll have to go with a 4.75 out of 5 stars on this one. There’s nothing to take away from the enjoyment of the story over all, and much to sit back and savor. For those who enjoy westerns, if you haven’t discovered B. S. Dunn, you don’t know what you’re missing. For those who are avid readers, I highly recommend giving his work a try. Each of the books is fully stand alone, with just a few hints that reference back to the previous books, so if you read them out of order, you won’t be missing anything.
You can find Slaughter Above the Border on Amazon Here.
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