Publisher: Five Star
Publication Date: May 18, 2022
Pages: 373 pages
With the embers of the Lincoln County War still burning, rancher Wes Bracken must rebuild his life amid the white-hot animosities lingering from the deadly feud. His vengeful brother-in-law vows to kill him, the county’s economic kingpin seeks revenge, and the despicable outlaw Jesse Evans, who violated Bracken’s wife, intends to murder Bracken and his young family. Two promises complicate Bracken’s survival chances: a pledge not to kill his wife’s brother and a commitment to help William H. Bonney earn a governor’s pardon for his crimes.
To survive and fulfill his dream of a peaceful life in 1880s New Mexico Territory, Bracken must fight a corrupt legal system, a duplicitous governor, a ubiquitous political ring, and the evil Jesse Evans. If Bracken keeps his promises to his wife and Billy the Kid, he risks an early grave in the same soil that holds so many of the Lincoln County War’s dead. If he ignores those pledges, he will dishonor the good name he hopes to build his future upon.
Clueless Gent’s Rating for Rio Hondo
Rio Hondo brings to an end the Three Rivers Trilogy by author Preston Lewis. In the Dedication, Lewis dedicated this final installment to his father, who died in 2020. I can’t think of a better way to honor a loved one than by dedicating such an exceptional story to them. In my mind, I can picture the author’s father, along with Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (assuming he’s up there) looking down from above and smiling their approval.
This final third of the trilogy continues shortly after the previous one ends. (However, I can attest that it is definitely a stand alone story.) The reader catches up to Wes Bracken, his wife and children, and his partner Jace Cousins, as they continue to try and live peaceful lives in the corrupt Lincoln County in the New Mexico Territory. William H. Bonney (a.k.a. Billy the Kid) returns to try and right some of the wrongs he previously endured in Lincoln County.
A special bond exists between Bonney and Bracken – the only man Bonney trusts. When a new governor is appointed over the territory – Governor Lew Wallace, there is hope that justice will come to Lincoln County, and Bracken is determined to see that Bonney gets fair treatment from the law. Then a new sheriff is elected – Pat Garrett – and hope for peace and righteousness continues to rise. However, as Wes Bracken continues to remind himself, this IS Lincoln County.
I admit that I am enthralled with historical fiction. I love when an author combines the real with the conjured. For instance, Lew Wallace actually did govern the New Mexico Territory from 1878 to 1881. In the scene where Bracken first meets Wallace, the governor is busy working on his current novel, a book with the title of Ben-Hur. After a little investigation, I was delighted to discover this was also a fact. I loved the way Lewis worked that little tidbit into the story!
“Finding Bonney’s like chasing the wind. You know it’s there, but you can’t always see it, unless it kicks up dust.”
—Sheriff Pat Garrett
Having read one of the other books in this trilogy, I can clearly say that the writing excellence continues. The author fully engages the reader with a storyline that is both captivating and appealing. How many of us have been wronged by someone and then hope that the wrongdoer is brought to justice? Anyone with those feelings can fully empathize with the main characters in this story.
I felt fully immersed in this story predominantly because of the author’s keen use of description. For example: “The ragged country ran brown with a thirst broken only by the meager creeks that snaked between the rolling hills and the peaks that glowered into the sky, some crests sporting a cap of snow that glistened in the morning sunlight.”
The pacing is very consistent throughout the story. It’s not edge-of-your-seat consistent, but more like keep-turning-pages consistent. Further, I wouldn’t say that the climax packs a mean punch, but I will say that the climax is satisfying; at least it was to me.
If you were to read this story, I’m pretty confident in saying that you’d enjoy it. However, if you were to read one or both of the other books in the trilogy first, you’d likely enjoy it even more!
My congrats to author Preston Lewis on a well-done trilogy!
Each receives an autographed copy of Rio Hondo!
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