Set in Texas after the American Civil War, Brush Country is an omnibus of two classic novels written in the 1960s by Elmer Kelton. True West Magazine recently named Mr. Kelton the “Best Living Western Novelist.”
The first novel, Barbed Wire, features protagonist Doug Monahan. He and his crew are hired to protect farmers and ranchers by fencing in their land on the open range. He meets opposition from Captain Andrew Rinehart, who originally settled the area, and his foreman, Archer Spann. They want to keep the range open for their cattle so that water is not off limits or blocked from access. Because of his power and influence, Reinhart wages a war against a local farmer who hires Monahan to fence in his property to protect his livestock and farmland from longhorn cattle that wander onto his land.
The second novel, Llano River, is also set in the brush country of Texas. The protagonist, Dundee, a former cowboy who worked for Doug Monahan’s fencing crew, wanders into a small western town tired and looking for work. Rancher John Titus hires Dundee to find out who’s stealing his cattle. One problem – Dundee must ride into a territory around the town of Runaway where cattle rustlers are known to live. Other men have tried and failed to locate the rustlers of Titus’ cattle, losing their lives in the process. Dundee eventually meets the leader, Blue Roan Hardesty, and his gang of rustlers. He also befriends a local rancher and his sister, who warn him of the danger of facing the outlaws alone. Dundee knows how to use a gun and is determined to bring the cattle rustlers to justice, with or without help from the local citizens.
Elmer Kelton is an award winning western writer. If you enjoy reading Western historical novels, I recommend Brush Country for believable storytelling and page-turning action.