Death Stalks the Rangers
' " "Whan that Aprille, with his shoures soote, The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote. And bathed every veyne in swich licuor, Of which vertu engendred is the floure...." " '--a Texas Ranger quoting Chaucer? Unusual, but not that far-fetched. Inhabitants of the frontier did read the classics: Homer, Walter Scott, and Dickens. Mountain men quoted Shakespeare because they used him as a remedy for warding off cabin fever during the brutal winters. Avid Western readers will recognize the "traditional" plot and dialog popularized by Mulford's Hopalong Cassidy novels, Zane Grey, and the pulps. Familiar terms like "hombre", "jaspers", and "cayuses" (horses) sprinkle the conversations. The two main characters, Texas Rangers Sean Kennedy and his sidekick Levi Mallory, ride out on on a quest to bring to justice whoever killed a fellow ranger drug into the station by his horse, Toby.
After frequenting saloons which include interviewing soiled doves (nothing explicit), fist fighting, a couple of pretty but devious Victorian ranch gals, and plenty of gun play, the prime suspect is, of course, the land hungry cattle baron attempting to swallow up the little guy. Yes, the good and bad guys are clearly delineated in this simple story, but even "white hats" don't always just get flesh wounds. The author doesn't allow the reader to forget that "Rangering" is dangerous work and the six shooter does not distinguish between justice and injustice.
No doubt, young Sean Kennedy and, perhaps, even his fiance will show up in further "Ranger" tales. The author has at least two other tales which feature Sean's Texas Ranger Lieutenant, Jim Blawcyzk. Yes, new westerns are being written. For librarians, educators, and readers wanting info and guidance on today's "traditional" Westerns and authors, an organization of professional Western writers calling themselves "Fictioneers" have created a website worth a visit. See: http://www.westernfictioneers.com/ Texas Rangers and their exploits have always been a popular Western theme--almost a western sub-genre. Because of this unpretentious, straight forward, and bare-boned story telling, especially for YA or novice pards, this novel could be be a doorway to more literary and substantial "Ranger" works such as the late Elmer Kelton's (Lone Star Rising Trilogy and Ranger's Law Trilogy). If you have library patrons or readers who can no longer escape with Louis L'Amour, let them ride a "Griffin"! 167 pages. Ages 11 and up
Recommended by Robert L. Hicks, Arkansas City High School Library
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I'm the author of Death Stalks the Rangers, and just want to say thanks for the great review. And for anyone looking for a Texas Ranger novel especially suited for boys age ten and up, try my Texas Ranger Cody Havlicek story, Big Bend Death Trap. Besides the main character, the hero is a fourteen year old boy who learns quite a lot about friendship and loyalty. And of course there's plenty of action, and a skeleton to boot!