4 out of 4 stars
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Riding Shotgun on the Normal Stage gives an exciting sneak peek into life in old Texas and some of its neighboring towns. However, please note that this story is fictional, so Google may have a hard time finding some locations mentioned in this book.
Clarence Withers is on the run. He has just murdered one of the notorious Kilgory brothers for cheating at a poker game and must flee for his life. Isidro is a witness to this murder. Separately, Clarence and Isidro make their way into the peaceful town of Normal and settle there. In typical fashion, Clarence wins at poker tables, upsetting the local gamblers. When he hears the Kilgory brothers are around, he promptly lets the local sheriff know they have come in search of him (Clarence), and why. The brothers make their way to the sheriff’s office as is the custom for everyone coming into Normal, and in the ensuing gun battle all but two of them are killed. Sheriff Dan Cooper hangs the two survivors the next day, against the wishes of some townspeople. Will this decision come back to haunt him, his family, and the erstwhile peaceful town of Normal?
This book comprises three stories intertwined and told as a single tale, with events in the town of Normal taking center stage. Isidro is a young Indian who has left his home and tribe in the Sierra Madre Mountains in search of greener pastures. Clarence Withers is a professional gambler who kills a cheat at a poker game gone sour. Unfortunately, this cheat is part of a local gang of ruffians who are now determined to avenge their brother’s murder. And Daniel Cooper is an ex-soldier who becomes the new sheriff in the town of Normal after the previous sheriff is shot dead while trying to clear up one of Clarence’s gambling brawls. F. Richard Allen gives a complete account of each protagonist’s story, and he does not leave the reader wondering what became of anyone. His writing style is one I admire.
This well-written historical fiction also does justice to the history part. From this book I learned about an ancient tribe of runners called the Tarahumara. This tribe was famous for their unique hunting style, which involved chasing their prey over very long distances until it became tired and could no longer run. The fictional character Isidro gives more details about the activities of this tribe in the book. The author also does a fantastic job of portraying life in the American south in the days when the sheriff was the judge, jury, and hangman. Normal even had its own neighboring Niggertown!
Riding Shotgun on the Normal Stage has earned a rating of 4 out of 4 stars from me. I found very few grammar errors, and I’m sure that was only because I was looking for them. If you love historical fiction, you should read this book.
Riding Shotgun on the Normal Stage
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