Cross of Gold

Tim Champlin. Five Star, $25.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-4328-2790-8
In the Old West of 1885 former lawman Marc Charvein just can’t get a break, and neither can the reader. In this meandering, disjointed western, Marc is shot at, tortured, chased, double-crossed, and accused of theft while wondering who really stole arrogant mine owner Ezra Pitney’s hoard of gold. This confusing story has too much going on; only readers of Champlin’s previous western, The Secret of Lodestar, will be able to fully understand the plot, making this tale a limp, flimsy sequel. Marc tells Pitney where the gold is hidden, not realizing it has already been stolen by a woman and her gambler partner, leaving Marc accused of the theft. Pitney’s hired gun, an unconvincing thug named Polecat Morgan, is sent after Marc in an elaborate and improbable pursuit across Nevada, Arizona, California, and Mexico. Even though Marc miraculously escapes hanging and torture, drowning, Indian attack, and a trigger-happy bounty hunter, the bad guys still get the drop on him, and only an unlikely shoot-out and lies to the law will get Marc out of trouble. Although burdened by corny dialogue (“a horsefly in the tapioca”) and a weak plot with little mystery and less suspense, the story has plenty of action, but even the gunplay cannot save this mediocre hayburner. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/15/2013
Release date: 11/01/2013
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 331 pages - 978-1-4104-6704-1
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