If you like a good western, you’ve got to give British author Chris Derrick’s pair ‘The Tainted Dollar’ & ‘The Sheriff’s Sister’ a read.
I ran across this writer through a friends posting and sat back scratching my head for a while as is usual for me. There’s a ton of stuff that I would like to read and other’s (mostly indie) that pops up on the radar from time to time, but between my own writing and whatever I happen to be reading, there’s just never enough time to get to all of these guys?
Downloading the first of Derrick’s stories, The Tainted Dollar, I was quickly pulled in and got in touch to find out how a gentleman residing in bloody old England no less could spin such a tale, as I would imagine that he had never experienced most of what he wrote of?
Chris Derrick is a good enough guy and responded filling in some of the blanks, which started a long running conversation back and forth via e-mail exchange.
The Tainted Dollar starts out by introducing Jake Base and a pair of brothers who have killed a man in Tucson in cold blood. Base travels from Arizona to Laredo Texas on the trail of the two gunmen. In Laredo he meets Manuel Sanchez the only son of a wealthy rancher. Before long he meets the father Lupe Sanchez and his beautiful daughter Maria.
On his first night in town, Base runs across the younger Sanchez—polluted with rotgut liquor—and two of the ranch cowboys that are tasked with keeping the young man out of trouble. By the end of the night one of the cowboys is dead and the other becomes a suspect in the murder only to talk his way out of it for a time.
Base was raised by Native American’s and although a U.S. Marshal, chooses to dress in the fashion of the Cheyenne, which brings unwanted attention at nearly every turn. Don’t worry though Base can more than handle his affairs as he makes his way through the pages.
Not wanting to spoil anything here, I’ll just say that Derrick’s second attempt ‘The Sheriff’s Sister’ was more worthy than the first (for me anyway) and maybe that is just because I somehow knew the characters from the first.
In The Sheriff’s Sister, Base has resigned from the U.S. Marshal’s office and is now the Sheriff of Laredo Texas. He’s also married the lovely Maria Sanchez in the time between stories. Having already established his characters, Derrick puts the hammer down early on and it’s Katy-bar-the-door from there on.
Through several turns of bad events, Base starts off an a manhunt where the killers turn against themselves from time to time evening the odds for the Laredo Sheriff who is forced to turn back now and again. This story contains a demented sister, a deranged cowboy, a kidnapping, plenty of lopsided gun battles, some quick knife work and a couple of rushed burials in the shifting Texas sand.
In both stories Derrick leans heavily on Native American culture and the history of the Mexican cowboys (the Vaqueros), which in itself lends an element of believability to each.
After reading the first…I had to read the second. I understand that there is a third (closely related) story in the works and a sample can be read at the end of The Sheriff’s Sister. I am looking forward to this one also.
If you have someone on your Christmas list that would enjoy a good western or two, Chris Derrick’s The Tainted Dollar & The Sheriff’s Sister would make a good gift.