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Range War In Whiskey Hill is Charles G. West’s twenty-second western novel. He began his writing career with a science fiction story titled The Tenant, a modern day take on the Frankenstein story. It had a very small print run. I’ve been told that I own one of only 2500 copies.  Since then, he’s concentrated on “historical” novels.

I don’t know who looks after the Fantastic Fiction listings, but they have Mr. West’s books mixed with another Charles West, a teacher from Fresno, California. They also have Tanner’s Law listed as coming out in September at $27.95. Signet brought out a paperback in January at $5.99.

Recently, Mr. West has started writing standalones. Before, he did books in groups of three, except for one four volume sequence.

Colt McCrae went to prison at eighteen after being misidentified as part of a bank robbery in which a man was killed. The one that actually did the killing hung and Colt got a ten year prison sentence. Two people could have cleared him, but didn’t for their own reasons. One, the actual outlaw for which he was misidentified, a friend of McCrae’s, and an embarrassed young woman.

Six months before he’s released, Colt gets a letter from his uncle, telling him his father had been killed, shot in the back. Everyone knows who’s responsible, a wealthy rancher named Frank Drummond. He’d bought out or run out every other rancher but Colt’s father and uncle.

Upon release, the young man returns home to help defend the ranch he now co-owns with his brother and his uncle’s, as well as find his father’s murderer. A hired killer named Bone is brought in to stop McCrae.

Yes, the range war plot is not new. Rather well used as a matter of fact. But I like the way Mr. West builds his characters and their relationships. He has an easy, fast flowing style that draws one in. His books and plots have gotten better with each succeeding volume.

Finally, I suppose I’m colored in my opinions by my having a tenuous, very tenuous, connection to the novelist. I worked for his brother twenty-five years ago and the man, now retired, still lives here in Eden, North Carolina. That’s how I first became aware of him, as his brother came into the Waldenbooks, where I was working parttime then, every time a new book was published.

Recommended, as well as any of the other twenty-one.

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