Billy Pinto’s War: American Legends Collection, Book 6

Written by Michael Zimmer
Review by Kathryn Voigt

Book six of the American Legends Collection series, Billy Pinto’s War continues in its rich tradition of spurious interviews from the Federal Writers’ Project. In this volume, San Pedro County Sheriff Hudson (Hud) Pratt recounts his pursuit of a 16-year-old Native American boy, Billy Pinto. Compelled by compassion and an unfailing sense of justice, Hud sets out to track Billy after the boy kills his mother’s murderers and kidnaps the judge’s daughter. His pursuit leads him to join up with mountain man Jess Harding, Billy’s mentor, in hopes of finding the young teen before search parties and bounty hunters with more sinister motives do. Zimmer captures the modern West of 1904 in the new gadgetries of automobiles, telephones, and electricity. The settlers juxtaposed with traditional Native tribes, cowboys, mountain men, and trackers, all nestled into the San Pedro Valley, create a mish-mash of surface harmony that seethes with underlying resentment.

The fable of Billy Pinto’s war, indeed. Sheriff Pratt’s self-reflective retelling reads like a memoir meant to explore the conscience of a pioneer lawman at the head of the march to social activism, even then. The novel is rife with gun-smokin’ action, and Hud is the perfect, back-country narrator for this story of social injustice. His wizened, grizzled point of view flirts with the possibility of a tragic flaw in the evasive character of Billy Pinto. Hands-down a gripping read!