Rating: 5 🌈
I’m thrilled to see Tal Bauer branching out into the western genre. Hell and Gone is the second western novel I’ve read of his. The first being the terrific Never Stay Gone, the beginning of his new Texas Rangers series.
Prior to these stories, it was Bauer’s excellent espionage or political thrillers I knew him by.
But extending his world of law enforcement characters to include those branches of western police such as Stock Detectives, Range Detectives, and Brand Inspectors is not only exciting but in an age where cattle rustling is close to a multi million dollar business, a section of criminal activity rarely covered outside of historic novels. As the author himself tells us these officers can be called upon to assist federal, state and local agencies investigations or arrests. No matter what they may be for.
And the American west covers a lot of territory.
Here it’s a section of Montana and a mountain range known as the Crazies. Bauer’s writing has never been finer or emotionally deep when describing the wildness of this land and the soul deep hold it has on the men here. The gritty harshness of ranch life high in the Crazies that runs along side the Incredible wild beauty of the mountains speaks to the reader on every page.
The men are tough, hard, filled with pain. Torn by life, damaged, filled with rage , and yet still capable of great sweetness.
Everett Dawson is one shut down man until he arrives at his new assignment, his first as a Stock Detective. His background, his damage, come through in trickles, pulled from him by his case and the one man demanding Everett look beyond the easy answers everyone else is giving him.
That’s the amazing character of Lawrence Jackson. All fire, rage, competence, and sheer belief in himself and his knowledge of the land, Law burns off the page, igniting the story and Everett’s case.
It’s a matter of conflagration!
The investigation is scary, tumultuous and one long white knuckle horse back ride. It’s so suspenseful that you literally find yourself holding your breath.
There’s violence, high action, murder , and a fantastic resolution.
Law and Everett make an outstanding, fascinating couple. One I’d love to see made into a series with Stock Detective as the focus agency.
Hope Bauer is listening.
In the meantime, what a marvelous exciting new tale, full of rarely explored sectors of law enforcement and amazing descriptions of a pristine area of Montana.
I’m highly recommending Hell and Gone by Tal Bauer. Don’t miss it or the author!
One hanged man.
Two vanished cowboys.
Three hundred missing cattle.
The Crazy Mountains are devouring everything they see.
Everett Dawson, Montana’s newest Stock Detective, has been sent from Helena down to the Crazy Mountains. Cattle are going missing in the Crazies and Everett is charged with finding these modern-day rustlers and bringing them in.
When he arrives, he finds a hanged cowboy and a heap of questions. Was it suicide or was it murder? Why are cowboys fleeing the Crazies? Far from a simple investigation, Everett’s case plunges deep into the mountains’ dark past.
Lawrence Jackson, the bad boy who runs the Lazy Twenty Two, was the last man to see the dead cowboy alive. There’s a whole forest fire of smoke swirling around Lawrence, and where there’s smoke, there’s flame… and maybe even murder.
But Everett is drawn to Lawrence, and if he takes the risk Lawrence offers, will Everett find what he craves, or will the Crazies claim their next victim?