cover image Murphy's Stand

Murphy's Stand

Gary Paulsen. Walker & Company, $17.95 (118pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-1277-6

Since the death of his wife, Al Murphy has wandered the West. As this latest addition to the series bearing his name ( Murphy's Gold , etc.) opens, the former sheriff stumbles on some gunmen just after they have committed a murder. Becoming a target himself, he narrowly escapes to Turrett, Ariz., a town in the midst of a war between rival mercantile concerns. The men who attacked Murphy work for food purveyor Bernard Gibson and have just eliminated his chief competitor, Jake McCormick. Hired by the dead man's sister, Christine, to guard a shipment to Fort Crosston, the ex-lawman is sucked into the conflict. When Christine is kidnapped by Gibson because she won't close her business, Murphy goes after her and finds that he must put on the sheriff's badge once again. Paulsen's taut, compact prose conveys character, emotion and place in a few spare words, packing a lot of plot into a minimum number of pages. Little here is new--certainly not the stereotypical drifter hero--but Paulsen pulls the reader along with good writing and a fast pace that leave little time for reflection. Both fans of the series and newcomers to it should enjoy this brisk read. (Oct.)