Wednesday, April 27, 2016


By Loren D. Estleman
Forge Books
224 pgs
Available May 2016

Now we’ve only read a few books by Loren D. Estleman but those were enough to convince us of his immeasurable storytelling talents.  It is also clear he possesses a genuine fondness for westerns as this latest title soundly confirms.

Montana based U.S. Deputy Marshal Page Murdock, a seasoned lawman, is ordered by his superior, Federal Judge Harlan Blackthorne, to Cape Hell, Mexico, to investigates the activities of former Confederate officer, Captain Oscar Childress, said to be assembling a private army to capture Mexico City.  From there Childress plans to turn his attention to United States and attempt to start a second Civil War.

Murdoch finds the entire idea ludicrous but has little say in the matter and soon finds himself aboard an old steam engine train called The Ghost barreling his way south with a shifty Mexican engineer and Joseph, his Indian fireman.  Their destination, Childress’ camp hidden deep in the heart of the rugged Sierra Madres overlooking Cape Hell.

The ex-Confederate would-be conqueror is a well used plot that in lesser hands would have proven tiresome and unoriginal, but it is Murdock’s weary world voice that gives it a new feel.  His curiosity at what makes Childress tick and his stubbornness in seeing the mission completed offer up a truly likeable protagonist who, considering how many times he’s cracked over the head, must have a skull made of rock.

“Cape Hell” is as fast paced as the locomotive that carries us into the eerily beautiful but deadly landscape and in the end delivers a fresh, exciting yarn worthy of the best classic westerns.  This one is a winner hands down.

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