Ride the Trail of Death
Kieser builds on his ancestors’ experiences in 1870s Dakota Territory for this Western. On the trail to Deadwood, teenager Birch Rose’s family is decimated during separate attacks by Native American Black Moon, and bandit Rico’s lawless gang. Legendary Deadwood sheriff Seth Bullock takes Rose under his wing, teaching him to be a crack shot and giving him a badge. Rose, now equipped to hunt down his family’s killers, must find Black Moon and Rico’s gang before they find him.
I don’t doubt Kieser did his research—he includes some interesting maps and photos of Deadwood, and incorporates historical figures as characters. The book falls short in other areas. It badly needs more editing: I gave up counting after ten instances of “starring,” when “staring” was meant, not to mention howlers such as “shear numbers.” Please, authors! Word processing software is not a substitute for real editing. Furthermore, Kieser blatantly tells the reader that a character is obsessed or mean, instead of letting the reader figure it out from the context. An extraordinarily self-aware villain speaks of another character as “more evil than me.” Several exposition passages are plot-dumped, rather than woven smoothly into the story. Sorry, but thumbs down.