cover image Riding with Hannah and the Horseman

Riding with Hannah and the Horseman

Johnny D. Boggs / Author Thomas Bouregy & Company $19.95 (192p

Stock western bravado and blood mark the third installment of Boggs's fanciful Hannah and the Horseman series (after The Courtship of Hannah and the Horseman). Long on horseflesh and action, short on depth and credibility, Boggs's series may look to old dime novels for its supporting characters, but its eponymous leads are less traditional: Hannah Scott, a pretty ranch owner who also runs a small orphanage for cherubic frontier waifs, and her fianc , Pete Belissari, a college-educated, Greek cowboy who drinks ouzo around the campfire, dislikes anybody who wears Levi jeans and gets seasick riding on a stagecoach. In their third outing, these two team up with Buddy Pecos, a crusty, one-eyed sharpshooter, in a partnership to operate a stagecoach line in west Texas in the 1880s. Pete, Hannah and Pecos are nice, honest folks who seem savvy enough but are no match for gamblers, swindlers and other trail thugs who cheat them all too easily. Their plan is shot full of holes, literally and figuratively, when a rival stagecoach outfit, led by a sultry lady gambler known as the Black Widow, sets up in competition. A 20-hour cross-country stagecoach race will decide who stays in business, but the desert route is filled with two-legged varmints. Barroom brawls, ambushes, horse-stealing, arson, flinty-eyed stares and tough talk from the bad guys are standard western fare, but the spectacular stagecoach race notches up the blood pressure and saves this otherwise predictable hayburner. (June)