cover image Lone Calder Star

Lone Calder Star

Janet Dailey. Kensington Publishing Corporation, $24 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-7582-0441-7

Debuting in 1981, the eight western romances chronicling the saga of Montana's Calder family are the superstars among Dailey's more than 100 books. This ninth novel follows young ex-lawman Quint Echohawk (a grandson of the series' original protagonist, Chase Calder) on an undercover mission from the family's Montana homeground to Texas, where the rival Rutledge millionaire clan is attempting a hostile takeover of neighboring ranches, including the Calders' sole Lone Star state ranch, the Cee Bar. With virtually the entire town intimidated or bribed into conspiring in the Rutledges' ruthless dealings, loner Quint faces perils ranging from fire to starvation to anthrax, with no allies save two small, out-of-business ranchers: crusty old-timer ""Empty"" Gardner and his grandaughter, Dallas. Characterizations are somewhat less complex than in early Calder novels. They're also less consistent. A plot twist in which the supposedly whip-smart, principled and gutsy Dallas is motivated by fear to spy on Quint for Rutledge's almost stereotypically slimy son, for instance, is not entirely convincing. (Or appealing; the charm of all Dailey's Calder women lies in their clear-headed grit.) Still, the passion, spirit and strength readers expect from a Calder story-and a Calder hero-shine through, as does the author's gift for vividly bringing the western landscape to life.