Friday, April 21, 2023

 See How I Shine A Light On. . .

The Darkest Day

In this final book of the Gun Hand series, 17 years have passed since Walsh Ritter buried his wife, and shortly thereafter, avenged her death. And as the blurb goes on to highlight, his circumstances have changed considerably:


 Walsh Ritter and the town of Tucumcari have needs. Walsh Ritter is standing on the doorstep of old age and needs a town where he can live out his final years quietly while he remembers the wife he loved that was needlessly and heinously taken from him. Tucumcari needs a resident coffin maker.

Seventeen years after he exacted his revenge on those that had killed his wife, Walsh Ritter is tired of wandering, he is ready to sleep in the same bed every night. Fate makes that possible. Walsh falls quietly and contentedly into life as a resident of a town who fills a necessary role, the role of coffin maker. Still wearing the gun that has made him so feared and so hunted, on occasion he must fall back on his old ways to stop those who would make a name for themselves by killing Walsh, but mostly he builds coffins and sits in the shade remembering her… until that young man came to town looking for help.

The town never saw Walsh again after he went to the shop to help the young man who was in need of a coffin.

Eleven days later, Walsh is allowed to emerge from one of his own coffins to see what he had hoped he would never see again. The young man proved to be much more than even Walsh had believed him to be. He was not just a kidnapper and would be murderer, he has a bloodline that makes him formidable.

Killing Walsh isn’t enough for the young man, it could never be enough. As so often before, the brutality had to precede the killing. But the young man makes the same mistake others before him made. When you take time to torture Walsh Ritter, you are giving him time to think and to get mad.

A reckoning must come, but also a final and everlasting peacefulness that had been sought for so long. Walsh sees a way for everyone involved to get what they desire the most, himself most of all…finally.

With jagged teeth and ragged lips, Walsh Ritter can finally smile in the epic conclusion to this saga.



My blog followers will know I’ve followed Jeff Crawford’s Gun Hand series from the start. And I’ve really enjoyed every painful, bloody step along the way. What impressed me the most is the way Jeff Crawford managed to elevate his story by applying & sticking to – how can I describe this – an adult approach to psychological horror from the outset.

(If you’re looking for madcap running and screaming and wanton bloodletting, then look elsewhere).

No, what you get here is something thoughtful; something insidious; something that eats away at your sensibilities so that you’re drawn into Ritter’s plight in a very personal way. THAT’s why it’s far superior to many other stories out there. And such a vibe set the series apart. And in this concluding chapter, he manages to slow the pace right down and add an intensity that allows you to prepare for an inevitability long in the waiting.

What that inevitability entails? Ah, you’ll have to find out for yourself. Just remember, Ritter does things HIS way. At a time and place of HIS choosing. Can we expect anything less, then, in this his final story when the ghosts of victims past come a calling?

A part of me is sad that Ritter’s story has to end. But isn’t that the way life is? Even so, Jeff Crawford delivers that ending in such a way that the legend will always live on, and in doing so, sets an example of how to round a hugely satisfying series off.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

 See How I made Sense Of. . .

Chaos Vector

In Chaos Vector, the second installment of the Protectorate Series, Megan O’Keefe maintains the frantic pace of her opening foray into the stars, and indeed, builds that momentum into a blistering action-adventure that pleases from beginning to end.

But let’s not race ahead of ourselves. The blurb has something to say first:


Sanda and Tomas are fleeing for their lives after letting the most dangerous smartship in the universe run free. Now, unsure of who to trust, Sanda knows only one thing for certain - to be able to save herself from becoming a pawn of greater powers, she needs to discover the secret of the coordinates hidden in her skull.

But getting to those coordinates is a problem she can't solve alone. They exist beyond a deadgate - a sealed-off Casimir gate that opens up into a dead-end system. And there's a dangerous new player who wants the coordinates for their own ends - a player who will happily crack her open to get them.


Yes, the threads O’Keefe laid out in Velocity Weapon are tightened even further, providing us with a visionary, far-flung adventure that is as gripping as it is exasperating. How so?

Sanda has a chip in her head. Something that will result in her death if anyone in authority finds out about it. Yet the chip contains coordinates that might – just might – provide answers to an ongoing mystery, hundreds of years in the making.

Her brother, Biran, is fighting to maintain his position and authority in an increasingly volatile environment where Keeper turns against Keeper, and Guard Core can’t be trusted.

And Thomas? Thinking the terms of his original contract have been fulfilled, his Nazca masters reassign him, placing him in far more danger than ever before. And unbelievably, against a woman he has started to develop feelings for. Trying to navigate a path out of this unenviable position is fraught with peril, for if either side discovers what he’s up to, it’ll mean instant death.

You see? A lot happens in this second book, and we haven’t even considered some of the finer points of the ever-evolving sub plot taking place among some of the other players introduced in Velocity Weapon. As I said, the momentum is frantic. But at no time do you ever lose track of what’s happening, where, when, or to whom.

And, just when you think it’s safe to relax, O’Keefe does it again, by adding that plot-twist to zing things along in a different direction. Great fun. Thoroughly enjoyable, and a superb example of what space opera is supposed to be.