Flint's Gift

Richard S. Wheeler, Author
Richard S. Wheeler, Author Forge $23.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-86366-1
Hardcover - 439 pages - 978-0-7838-0270-1
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7861-1355-2
Mass Market Paperbound - 352 pages - 978-0-8125-5019-1
Paperback - 356 pages - 978-0-595-34395-9
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Intended as the first book in a trilogy about frontier newspaperman Sam Flint, this uneven novel rewrites the classic western film High Noon for a hero who slings words instead of six-shooters. Sam is a one-man newspaper operation, wandering the Southwest looking for the right town in which to set up his press. Lured to Payday, Ariz., in 1877, he finds an isolated little community hungry to attract new settlers and merchants. His newspaper, the Payday Pioneer, helps bring folks to town, but not without growing pains. Before the decent townspeople know it, a crowd of drifters, tinhorns, gamblers, whores and pistoleros set up shop, led by a blackheart named Odie Racine. The only man willing to stand against Racine's threats is Sam Flint, but his candid reporting makes him a lone, vulnerable target. On the other hand, the only man powerful enough to help save the town is Flint's bitter rival for the hand of beautiful Merry-Grace Rakoczy. In the final showdown, two unlikely allies step beside Sam to face down Racine's gunsels and back-shooters: once the gunsmoke clears, the satisfyingly high body count attests to Wheeler's strong recovery from an occasionally plodding story line. Still, the prolific novelist's third novel this year never lives up to the promise of his terrific Second Lives. (Sept.)
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