Ten and Me

Johnny D. Boggs, Author Avalon Books $19.95 (182p) ISBN 978-0-8034-9390-2

Like the ""double-dimer"" thrillers of the Old West, Boggs's second novel (after Hannah and the Horseman) comes complete with a generic fast-moving plot, ""cliffhanger"" chapter endings and a burgeoning cast of villainous characters. The guileless narrator and protagonist of this miniature epic is Jack Mackinnon. A failed postwar farming effort sends Jack to Texas, where a terrible toothache puts him in the way of a consumptive dentist, Tenedore Keough, ""Ten."" The pair eventually join the Texas Rangers, then lapse into outlawry before finally becoming peace officers again. Their exploits are publicized by the lovely and innocent hack writer Robin Hunter in a series of ""penny dreadfuls"" featuring ""Ranger Jack"" and his intrepid companion, ""Ten."" The immense popularity of the books makes the ""pards"" famous, but it also exposes them to dangerous challenges from envious gunmen. Through it all, Jack always stands up for justice, while Ten flirts with the seamier side of life. Romantic liaisons between Ten and Robin and between Ranger Jack and a ranger's beautiful daughter keep the tale moving in the gaps between explosive scenes of gunplay and vicious struggles involving the forces of good and evil in the Old West. Informed by accurate detail in almost every regard, the tale only rarely slips into anachronism or error. Boggs's narrative voice captures the old-fashioned style of the past and reminds a reader of the derring-do of western legends of yesteryear. (Dec.)
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