Thursday, April 20, 2023

Book Review Thursday - The Troubleshooters

The Troubleshooters 

by William W. Johnstone (Guns of the Vigilantes #2)

I’ll say 3.5 stars. It was a good yarn, but a bit long and rambling. I got half way done and it kinda felt over (though the money stolen from the bank hadn’t been recovered), then a whole new cast of characters was introduced and off we went on another wild chase for the bad guys. Felt like two short novels put into one sprawling tale. Not bad writing or storytelling, actually, just some odd and surprising plot developments. 

The story started out pretty promising with Frank James (Jesse’s older brother) joining a posse in a small Texas town after the bank’s been robbed. He quotes Shakespeare and has evidently reformed his ways. An interesting character. Other supporting characters aren’t badly drawn either. The leader is deputy sheriff Dan Caine and the men set out but then immediately get ambushed. They regroup and try again, and this is where the plot starts to go off the rails.

(Spoilers next - although part of this is mentioned on the back blurb.) 

One of the posse members is an Italian priest who is on the search for a lycanthrope in order to bring him back to the Vatican along with a wayward sapphic nun who has founded an order of She Wolves that terrorize the prairie. This isn’t a ‘weird western’ (in the current meaning of that genre, that is, featuring actual werewolves and vampires and such), but it is fairly odd in that the characters are considering that there are such beasts roaming the world. Kinda crazy.

So what basically happens is that the story shifts from chasing the bank robbers to getting the money back from the leader of the She Wolves - whose pack of wild women had come across the robbers and killed them all, stealing the money. Definitely a surprising twist to a standard western posse vs bad guys trope. Later the Apaches enter in, there’s a massacre, and then we’re off to Ft. Worth for the final showdown.

A pretty wild ride overall, and if you’re really into westerns with a slightly skewed plot, this might be for you. Oh, and every now and then the author inserted an omniscient narrator voice who spoke from the future about the events as history ‘recorded’ them. Curious and interesting at times, but not your typical third person past approach.

Of course, William W. Johnstone didn’t write this novel (he’s been dead for some years), but I suspect his estate has a slew of house writers they use. Nothing wrong with that, but the storytelling style will change from book to book and series to series. Evidently, this is the second book in a vigilante series although I wouldn’t classify it as vigilante justice per se. Still, I enjoyed the novel enough to finish it. And whenever I need another quick and easy Johnstone western, I might try book number one.


This is Book #14 in my race to read/review 52 books this year.
Click here for a list of all my 52 Week Challenge reviews.

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