Review of Nueces Reprise by Mark Greathouse

I have been reading westerns recently because their stories transcend the genre.  A western tale easily can be migrated to a science fiction or other setting.  I snagged a copy of this at the Rally Against Censorship recently and it finally worked its way to the top of my reading pile.  It is the second book of the Tumbleweed Saga, the emerging legend of Luke Dunn, Texas Ranger. 

The book is a wonderful read, picking up almost immediately after the events of the first novel. I won’t spoil the story other than to say that the plot thickens.  Many of the characters that you are introduced to in Nueces Justice are back, with more depth added to their backstories.  Some seemingly minor characters in the first novel, emerge and stand on their own.  The ensemble cast is part of the mystique of this series. Everyone has a motive, many of which conflict with the others – which is where the conflicts arise…and there are a lot of conflicts in this book – true to the western genre.

Some authors chop off the heads of characters as if they were George R. R. Martin. Mark is not above killing characters, including those that have redeemed themselves. In fact, their redemption makes their deaths all the more poignant. He’s not a butcher like some writers, but puts a notch in his author’s pistol only when necessary and impactful.   

As with the first novel, Greathouse is a master of crafting a plot that is far from obvious. Just when you think you know what is going on and then you find yourself in a new, unexpected place. That is the mark of a good storyteller.  Handling ensembles of characters and complex plots requires a firm yet artistic hand, one that Greathouse possesses.

The author does his research, right down to the idiosyncrasies of the firearms being used. He stays true to the western genre, weaving in bits of real history with his fictional characters. His heroes are far from perfect, as demonstrated at the end of this novel – which I really found myself enjoying. 

Nueces Reprise doesn’t stand alone – you need to read the precursor novel.  Fortunately both are a good investment of time.    

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