WHERE THE BULLETS FLY
A Sheriff Aaron Mackey Western
By Terrence McCauley
Ever since the emergence of the New Pulp movement several decades
ago, we’ve noticed a resurgence in so many different genres of popular fiction
long defunct. We’re not saying westerns ever went out of style; it is perhaps
one of the more staple genres in American fiction. But it, like all the others,
has had its ups and downs. There were decades when all one saw on paperback
racks were westerns and then times when one was lucky to see a few Louis L’Amours.
Those are cycles most readers soon become familiar with. As to the whys, that’s
beyond this reviewer’s ability to comprehend. What we do know is that westerns
are back in a big way and store racks are debuting new and exciting writers.
One such is Terrence McCauley who appeared on the scene only
a few years ago writing suspenseful crime and spy thrillers. Knowing the author
personally, we quickly became fans. Little did we suspect he was about to give
us two of the best western heroes ever to appeare in print; Sheriff Aaron
Mackey and his Deputy Billy Sunday.
“Where The Bullets Fly” is the first in the series and it
kicks off with a bang. Mackey, a West Point
graduate and former Calvary Captain, is drummed out of the army after his
hair-trigger tempter gets the best of him. Thinking himself a failure, he
returns to his hometown of Dover Statrion Montana. Accompanying him are his former black
first sergeat Billy Sunday and old veteran scout Sim Halstead. Ultimately
pressure from his Irish father and the town council get Mackey elected sheriff
shortly after marrying a naïve young girl named Mary. She sees him as her
knight in shining armor.
As the story opens, Mackey’s marriage is nothing but a
convenience and his life has become routine. Dover Station, thanks to the
railroad line, is beginning to grow and Eastern investors are seriously looking
at helping that along. Mackey could care less. He’s content with keeping the
peace whenever a few cowhands or miners get out of hand on a Saturday night.
Then one day, five strangers ride into town and start start a ruckus at the Tin
Horn saloon, savagely beating the owner and his bouncer. Mackey and Sunday
attempt to arrest them only to have the drunken cowboys draw their six-guns and
lead starts flying. When the gunsmoke clears, all five men are dead in the
street and Mackey is left with mystery of who they were and why had they come
to his peaceful town?
He soon learns the answer to that question in the form of a vicious killer named Darabond who commands a group of some fifty men hellbent on raiding and destroying any town they come upon. Now their target is Dover Station and they are about to fall upon it like human locust with only Mackey and his few allies to stop them. Suddenly, the ex-soldier is once again hurled into a bloody war and it will take all his skills and grit to save his home from the merciless raiders.
In Aaron Mackey, Terrence McCauley has created one of the toughest, most brutal and believable heroes ever to ride the wide open ranges. Once started, this was a book we just couldn’t put town. Sure, there are familiar tropes one expects in any western, but McCauley has the verve to shake them up and there are quite a few surprises in store for the jaded reader. This is one oater, you won’t soon forget.