cover image Murphy's Ambush

Murphy's Ambush

Gary Paulsen. Walker & Company, $17.95 (112pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-4149-3

In this fifth book of the western-mystery adventures of New Mexico Sheriff Al Murphy, the lean and leathery lawman finds himself on the trail of renegade Apache, murder and conspiracy. The authors (Murphy's Stand) serve up a fast-paced tale of frontier excitement and action, leavened with cowboy cliches and saddleworn characters. Al Murphy, former saddlebum and drunk, is now dried out and sheriff of a small town. Aided by a crabby old muleskinner, a gentle giant and a young, pretty shopkeeper, Murphy investigates the brutal murders of a rancher and his family. Despite the prairie dust and clouds of gunsmoke, the mystery plot is thin and transparent; the reader will too quickly guess the real owlhoots and their murderous motives. The action, however, is crisply written, suspenseful and realistic, especially Murphy's tireless pursuit of, and blazing gunfight with, the Apache raiders. Even after ingesting a heavy intake of hot lead and sharp arrows, Murphy bravely staggers on as the bigger-than-life Western lawman who loves his horse more than the girl, a Tom Mix for the '90s. Rights: Flannery Literary Agency. (June)