Preacher’s Assault by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
If you’re looking for a fast-paced Western set in the days before the Civil War and you don’t care much about character development or clever writing, this is your book.
Preacher’s Assault is apparently the 17th volume in William W. Johnstone’s The First Mountain Man series, but I doubt you really miss much no matter where you start the series. This was my first exposure to Preacher, and to Johnstone. The book lists his nephew as a co-author; I believe he either finished his uncle’s unfinished manuscripts or is continuing the series himself. Not sure. The writing is competent, but not very imaginative. For instance, Preacher’s dog’s name is Dog, and in every sentence where Dog is mentioned you can bank on the fact the next line will have the phrase “the big cur” somewhere in it. There were a few other phrases that became laughably tedious after a while.
The plot is pretty simple. Preacher and a couple of friends sign on to help a wagon train of freight get from Independence, Missouri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico, after the wagon train leader helps them out of a scrape. On the way they encounter bandits, Indians, and a bear that really wants to munch “bullwhackers” (another word that got very, very old). The pacing is good, with every chapter ending on a cliffhanger, but, really, you pretty much know what’s going to happen next.
It’s a fun read, but won’t enrich your mind. If you have some time to fill waiting on your car to be repaired or whatever, give it a go.
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