I have a confession to make. As a general rule, I don’t read Westerns. I find that too often the stories get lost in the author’s desire to provide the reader with every little period-accurate detail they’ve researched, and bogged down with unwieldy “cowboy” lingo in the dialog. And while that may appeal to some, it’s just not my cup of tea.
I have another confession to make. Edward A. Grainger, aka David Cranmer, is turning me into a convert. You see, Cranmer doesn’t write Westerns per se, he writes well-crafted stories with engaging characters that just happen to take place in the Old West. And he does it very, very well. Don’t get me wrong, the adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles are unquestionably Westerns, but Cranmer never loses sight of the real prize: character and story. And that makes all the difference in the world to this reluctant reader of Westerns.
It helps that Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles, both U.S. Marshals, are charismatic and unique individuals. Laramie is known to display an unorthodox streak as questionable as the outlaws he hunts, his behavior often fueled by the approach to life that was ingrained in him having been raised by Native Americans. For his part, Miles brings the challenge of being one of the first black Marshals into play, showing how his status as a black man in the 1880s Old West can make both all the difference in the world and none whatsoever to how he does the job… often at the same time.
The seven stories in this collection run the gamut from straight-up action/adventure (“Kid Eddie”) to a genuine whodunit mystery (the very clever “The Bone Orchard Mystery”) to reflections upon complex societal issues and social mores (“Miles to Go,” “Melanie”). From collection opener “The Wind Scorpion” to closer “The Outlaw Marshal,” every one of them is worth the price of admission.
Normally I would recommend you get Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles if you are a fan of Westerns, but I figure if you are you’re probably already on-board. Instead, I actually recommend this collection to you if, like me, you are a reluctant reader of Westerns. I guarantee David Cranmer and his buddies Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles will change your mind.
Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles is available at Amazon, as is a second volume of Cash and Gideon stories, Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles Vol. II.