The Book of Murdock


In 1884, in Helena, Montana, 43-year-old Deputy U.S. Marshal Page Murdock is ordered to travel south and capture bandits responsible for terrorizing the residents of Owen, Texas. A middle-aged gunman, he must disguise himself as Brother Sebastian of the Church of Evangelical Truth. Never a religious man, he must learn passages from the Bible, preach sermons and provide inspiration to his congregation while looking for the leader of the outlaws.

I enjoyed the story of Page Murdock and his transformation from gunman to preacher. Mr. Estleman has the ability to write a story that allows you to picture both the action and dialogue between the characters. As a reader, you become immersed in the educational process of Murdock and wonder if he can pull it off. When he arrives in Owen, he is faced with situations where his disguise is almost impossible to maintain, but he still is able to convince the town of his vocation. Murdock’s true identity becomes especially difficult to hide when he meets a woman from his past who could destroy his mission if she chooses to reveal it.

The novel is character-driven, containing excellent dialogue. I highly recommend it to those who like their Western heroes imperfect.

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12 of the best stories selected from the 2012 Historical Novel Society Short Story Award






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