The Guns of Billy Free

Doug Bowman, Author
Doug Bowman, Author Forge $23.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-312-86573-3
Reviewed on: 11/30/1998
Release date: 12/01/1998
Mass Market Paperbound - 288 pages - 978-0-8125-9028-9
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4668-8138-9
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While the title promises blazing six-gun action, Bowman's latest western (after Houston) turns out instead to be a sappy, saddlesore melodrama of yet another young cowboy forced down the outlaw trail by crooked lawmen and bad luck. Young Billy Free flees his home in Mississippi and runs to Texas in the 1870s after bushwhacking two deputies who tried to arrest him for a murder he didn't commit. He may not have killed that first fellow, but Billy makes up for the omission as he wanders across Texas, plugging bad guys and good guys while convincing himself they all deserved it. As naive as they come, Billy can't tell his friends from his enemies and falls in love with the first girl who shows him any attention, Bess Noble, a mousy shopkeeper about as bright as her hard-riding paramour. With corny dialogue, an abundance of useless detail (Who cares what Billy eats at every meal?) and caricatures of western characters, this lame hayburner has no spark. (Dec.)
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