Ah yes, the Wild West. A time in America when men were men, whiskey knocked you on your ass, and a gunfight was the Law. Although I don't read Westerns, I do enjoy the movies - 3:10 to Yuma, Tombstone, any John Wayne movies, and the Spaghetti Westerns. Yet, like I said, I've never really read any Westerns before until today. Thanks to author and friend JC Crumpton, I am a changed woman.
Field of Strong Men, a short story by Crumpton, is that typical story of "bad guy does wrong, good guys find out, bad guy kills someone, standoff, good guy kills bad guy" Western, yet so, so much more. Crumpton makes you feel as though he actually witnessed the entire damn feud and lived to tell everyone about it. You can feel the dust swirling around you as you ride your horse into town. You want to take that shot of whiskey. The smell of gunpowder and seeping blood fills your nostrils on that night of revenge. The story is thus: Ezra Willis is dead and his wife and three sons, Zeke, Jerome, and Rondal, stand by to say good bye as he is lowered into the ground. Yet, this is not a peaceful scene, as the sons know that their Pop was the victim of foul play, as done by his former business partner, Abner and his nephew, Luke Drinkwater. No sooner as their Pop is laid to rest as the boys begin to seek justice against those who did them wrong. This short story is packed with standoffs, tears shed, lives lost, and a taste for blood. In short, this is a DAMN FINE story.
The second story in the bundle, titled Jack and Jill, is a far cry from a Western, yet Crumpton shows he's got the chops to be an excellent storyteller. The story is thus: Jack seeks out his daily tuna fish sandwich and bottle of water from Jill's deli, all the while working up the courage to ask her out on a date. When he finally does, the results are not what he expected. That's all I'm going to say on that, except that it's a great counterpart to Field of Strong Men.
The stories are available on Kindle - you owe it to yourself to purchase them. Regardless if you like Westerns or not, Field of Strong Men is a well done tale of the Wild West, one that will stay with you for quite some time. In fact, while I'm typing out this gushing review, I'm listening to music from Spaghetti Western movies (right now, it's A Fistful of Dollars - LOVE THAT MOVIE!).
Jack and Jill is also worth the purchase - just buy the stories!
Thank you, JC, for doing the Wild West right. Write more, please!
PS - the music has change to The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. Another awesome movie if you haven't seen it. Highly recommended.