cover image Survivor

Survivor

Tim Champlin, Author Five Star (ME) $18.95 (264p) ISBN 978-0-7862-0661-2

International intrigue and harrowing glimpses of life in an equatorial French prison are the stuff of this offbeat new western from Champlin (The Last Campaign). Marcel Dupre, imprisoned on the island of St. Joseph off the coast of French Guiana for more than 20 years, finally makes a desperate ocean escape in 1883. Making his way to California, he has in his possession something the French fear more than the prisoner himself-a memoir of his life in the hellish colony and his brutal tour before that in the Foreign Legion, which was sent to shore up the French puppet regime of Emperor Maximillian in Mexico. Wells Fargo is hired to find Dupre, who has disappeared, and deliver the manuscript to a publisher in New York. Jay McGraw, a lowly, inexperienced express-car messenger, is given the job. A wobbly French government, worried that the exposure will topple it, has recruited a gang of thugs to stop him. If he survives, however, McGraw will certainly have earned his spurs. The plot skips easily between Dupre and McGraw and California and Guiana. Champlin's indelible portrait of the Devil's Island-like prison launches this brisk and satisfying read. (Nov.)