Undertaker Nick Graves has buried folks for pay . . . and killed some for free. Now settled in Ocean, California, with a good woman he loves, he'd like to forget the wild young man he once was—a man who buried a fortune in stolen jewels in the Badlands . . . in the grave of the former friend he dispatched to Hell.
Barrett Cobb deserved to die and Nick doesn't regret having done the deed. But now a bunch of two-bit outlaws have heard the tale and they're dead set on looting Cobb's final resting place—which the mourner cannot and will not abide. But if Nick Graves leaves his new life behind to seek justice he might never get back again. And digging up the past could prove fatal, since madmen, killers, and a very patient bounty hunter are waiting for Graves to do just that.
Mortician and ‘Man With A Past’ Nick Graves rides into the town of Jessup, Nebraska and is immediately accosted by a would-be robber. The stick-up man winds up dead and Nick discovers that the man was a deputy.This is just the beginning of Marcus Pelegrimas’ (writing as Marcus Galloway) entertaining western The Man from Boot Hill. The plot quickly becomes complicated, bringing in the corrupt sheriff’s department and a mysterious stranger who is living in the town’s jail.Despite what I’ve written above, The Man from Boot Hill isn’t one of those westerns that reads more like a mystery. This is a western through and through. The plot is generally advanced at the point of a gun rather than by stumbled upon clues.Nick Graves (don’t worry, the too cute surname is explained in the prologue) was an interesting character. Though he’s as handy with a gun as any other western hero, there’s a humility about him that is unusual for the stereotype. I don’t want to say that he’s soft, as he is not in any way. But he at least comes across as someone who could function in a town. He doesn’t automatically punch/shoot anyone that crosses his path and at the same time is not portrayed as a saint.We get snippets of Nick’s checkered past sprinkled through the course of the novel, though this being the first book in a series, not everything is revealed. That's to be expected of course, but I wonder if maybe a little too much was left out. At one point Nick mentions that his past will never leave him alone. Yet all that we have been told about his past was resolved by the end of the book. Maybe just a mention of others seeking vengeance against him would have helped me understand why he feels so hunted.In the previous books of his that I’d read I noticed that Marcus Pelegrimas is weak in describing action scenes and that is the case here. For instance, there is a vital (and violent) confrontation that takes place in an alley. Often in the description of the close quarters fistfights, things would get muddled. I think he may be trying to describe too many fine details in his brawls, making them clunky to read.The book runs about four hundred pages and the pace is somewhat leisurely. It doesn't ever feel like it is dragging or padded, but whittling down the page count would probably have helped tighten things up making the book more of a page turner.Still, I did like the book overall. It wasn’t as good as the last western I’d read by this author: Death of a Bad Man, but was an enjoyable read anyway. I have picked up the rest of the series and will read them. And I have to give an extra half a star to any western that manages to end in a duel.read more
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