Title: Hell and Gone
Author: Tal Bauer
Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 197 Pages
Category: Contemporary, Murder Mystery, Western
At a Glance: As a first time reader, I was thoroughly entertained and duly impressed by this authors storytelling ways.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: One hanged man.
Two vanished cowboys.
Three hundred missing cattle.
The Crazy Mountains are devouring everything they see.
Everett Dawson, Montana’s newest Stock Detective, has been sent from Helena down to the Crazy Mountains. Cattle are going missing in the Crazies and Everett is charged with finding these modern-day rustlers and bringing them in.
When he arrives, he finds a hanged cowboy and a heap of questions. Was it suicide or was it murder? Why are cowboys fleeing the Crazies? Far from a simple investigation, Everett’s case plunges deep into the mountains’ dark past.
Lawrence Jackson, the bad boy who runs the Lazy Twenty Two, was the last man to see the dead cowboy alive. There’s a whole forest fire of smoke swirling around Lawrence, and where there’s smoke, there’s flame… and maybe even murder.
But Everett is drawn to Lawrence, and if he takes the risk Lawrence offers, will Everett find what he craves, or will the Crazies claim their next victim?
Review: Cowboys and Lawmen and Murder
That’s what I’m talkin’ about, all in one book, and it’s what author Tal Bauer delivers in his latest novel Hell and Gone, a murder investigation that leads two men straight into the gaping maw of corruption, danger and a threat to their lives, and a budding romance between them that delivers them both from the brink of a lifetime of loneliness.
Initial observations of this author’s delivery of a story (yes, this is the first time I’ve had the pleasure of reading him) is that he’s adept at delivering a solid opener meant to bait readers into following his lead, and I fell for it, gladly. We play witness to a murder in progress in that opening scene and then spend the remainder of the book with cowboy Lawrence Jackson and Stock Detective Everett Dawson as they track down clues, through vivid scenery, that not only uncovers disappearances and additional murders, but a cattle rustling operation associated with those disappearances and deaths as well.
Not to be outdone in the successful department, however, are Law and Everett themselves, and the ways in which Bauer uses the forced proximity trope and Law’s big heart to draw out Everett’s past—a past that haunts him in visceral flashbacks full of regret and grief. It’s the trust building from ground zero, when Everett had reasonable doubts and supporting evidence of those doubts through Law’s displays of temper and obstinance, that gives their moments of confession and passion weight and a heightened sense of importance to the investigation and resolving the case.
The story responds in the end in a sensational fashion with some twists and surprises, mortal danger and, ultimately, a romantic promise that was the payoff for everything suffered along the way. As a first time reader, I was thoroughly entertained and duly impressed by this authors storytelling ways.
You can buy Hell and Gone here: