Riding Vengeance with the James Gang
In the preface to this novel about the notorious gang headed by Frank and Jesse James, Gilmore expresses how difficult it was to imagine the thoughts, words, and emotions of his characters while telling their story in an historically accurate manner. Still, he succeeds admirably.
Gilmore, who has written other works about the Missouri-Kansas border war, shows in detail how much that war, and the subsequent Civil War, affected the James brothers, especially Jesse, and how it shaped their future lives as outlaws. The James brothers teamed up early in their careers with the Younger brothers, an alliance that lasted many years. The novel gives the reader a bonus in that it provides as much information about the Younger brothers as it does about their more famous partners.
One of the most dramatic episodes in the history of the James-Younger gang was the disastrous bank robbery in Northfield, Minnesota. The raid triggered one of the most massive manhunts in history as hundreds of policemen and vigilantes combed the countryside for the gang members. Gilmore’s vivid retelling of this event is extremely well detailed and keeps the reader engrossed in the daring story. This is a great read all around.