It would have been unlikely for me to pick up a book with “murder, loss, and vengeance” as its subtitle, but it came highly recommended by one of you blog readers, so I gave it a go. I’m glad I did.
The main character, Chenneville, is a complex one. After surviving a skull fracture at the end of the Civil War, he is bent on avenging his sister’s murder, all the while showing us along the way what a good man he is. He is kind to others, women, horses, dogs, and a lonely telegraph worker who takes him in during a snow storm. We like Chenneville more and more as the story slowly proceeds, even though he is bent on exterminating someone truly awful. Part of you wants him to get the guy, but the larger part of you doesn’t want him to waste his life on it.
The book highlights the lawless chaos of the post Civil War years, and is mostly a manhunt through the wilds of Texas. Themes of grief and revenge, morph subtly, to be eclipsed by glimmers of hope for a future. Because I would have liked to see that come to fruition in the end, I give this book only four stars. For me it wasn’t over when it was over. Maybe she has set herself up for a sequel?
However, the writing of Chenneville is absolutely top notch. You taste, smell, hear and feel his travels, in an almost a poetic way, which is always straightforward but brimming with atmosphere. This is historical fiction that squarely puts you into that time and place, fascinated by who he meets up with, and how he copes. You too might find it worth reading.