4 out of 4 stars
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In Shanks Crossing by Gary Jay Pool, Benjamin Franklin Crane is a teenage boy working as a farmhand for Henry Shanks, a rancher in Montana. Set near the Yellowstone River in 1917, Henry is a veteran of the Spanish American War and has experienced many hardships on the cold frontier. Shanks and Crane are working when they encounter one of Henry's old friends, struggling to escape the criminals that he robbed from. Giving permission to cross the river on his land, the result for the intruder is catastrophic, and the three men struggle to survive on the fast-moving river current.
A smart man, Henry Shanks wills his land and treasure to the boy, knowing he won't survive the perilous day. Ben brings reinforcements to fight the criminals who are determined to end his life and take Henry's land. Who will come out of the fight victorious? Was Shanks correct in his premonition? Will Ben live out the day himself? Only time will tell in this stunning novel set in the beauty of Montana from a century ago.
I loved this book and had trouble putting it down. Mr. Shanks has had quite a life, and his telling of his fortunes and misdeeds was fascinating. His sympathy and adoration of Ben is endearing and captivating. The author does a great job slowly introducing each character into the conflict as to not overwhelm the reader. There are many bloody conflicts throughout the book, and the vivid imagery provided in each of these battles is full of suspense. This book is a quick read, with the reader being able to read the entire story in a few hours' time.
This book had quite a few typos and grammatical errors, but I don't think they detracted from the overall storyline. For example, page 180 states: "his patients was running low." I really liked Ben Shanks and would read a sequel that focused on Ben's life after this book's events. The author left some loose ends to tie up in regards to the storyline, so maybe that is the plan to write a sequel. I'm especially interested in the possible romantic storyline presented at the end of the book involving Ben and Ann, the sheriff's daughter.
I give Shanks Crossing 4 out of 4 stars for its excellent storyline, vivid imagery, and interesting characters. I recommend this book for any reader interested in the Wild West at the turn of the last century, with real cowboys as the main characters.
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