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Book review: 'Silver City' perfect for fans of John Wayne and Zane Grey

"Silver City" by Jeff Guinn (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 376 pages, in stores)

There is nothing I enjoy more than a good Western. I am of the generation that grew up watching "Gunsmoke" and John Wayne and reading Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour.

Around these parts, many people feel the same way, which is why Jeff Guinn's new book “Silver City” is currently a local best-seller.

This is Guinn's third novel in the series about the American West featuring Cash McLendon. It is a worthy read for any fan of the Old West.

Lively characters, authentic Old West settings and great storytelling highlight this tale of McLendon, who is now on the run from a professional assassin known as Killer Boots, a giant of a man who likes to inflict pain and can kill with one kick from his steel-toed boots.

In “Silver City,” McLendon has survived the historic battle between whites and American Indians at Adobe Walls and hopes to win back the love of his life, Gabrielle, who now lives and works in Mountain View, a mining boom town in the Arizona Territory.

McLendon travels to Mountain View in an attempt to convince Gabrielle that he is the right man for her, but Gabrielle has another suitor, a former sheriff and now local schoolteacher named Joe Saint, who is a solid citizen and well-respected by the residents of Mountain View.

Saint is devoted to Gabrielle and would provide her a good life. Saint is the safer, perhaps more logical choice of the two men for a husband, and Gabrielle must now decide between listening to her head or her heart. Life with McLendon would be more exciting but more dangerous, as Gabrielle quickly finds out.

Killer Boots has been dispatched by his boss, McLendon's former father-in-law, to find McLendon and return him to St. Louis. McLendon's former father-in-law blames McLendon for the death of his daughter and desperately wants to avenge her death.

McLendon has managed to elude Killer Boots for two years and mistakenly thinks it is now safe to have Gabrielle in his life again, but she provides Killer Boots with a way to get to McLendon. He hatches a plan to kidnap the woman to bring McLendon to him.

The two men who are competing for Gabrielle's affection now must team up to save her, along with the help of McLendon's old friend, Major Mulkins, a Civil War veteran. McLendon is ready to trade his life to save Gabrielle, and Saint feels the same way.

Guinn mixes some real-life Old West towns and historical characters into his fiction. Killer Boots pays off a corrupt sheriff in the seedy hell hole of Silver City, New Mexico, on his journey to Mountain View and hires the Clanton clan, later to become famous in Tombstone, to assist in his plan.

The Clantons were frontier hustlers out to make a fortune by any means at hand and, in the novel, are eager to help Killer Boots for the right price.

McLendon also crosses paths with a young Apache chief and warrior named Geronimo, or Goyathlay, as he was known in his youth. Goyathlay and four other Apaches who fled the reservation play a big role in McClendon's final clash with Killer Boots.

“Silver City” is a rousing Western adventure, and one this ol' cowboy fan found very satisfying.

Ed Godfrey

Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more... Read more ›