Caywood Valley Feud
This third in the series of Penn & McCutcheon adventures finds Jim McCutcheon ready to settle down and get married to a divorced woman in Texas, but a story in a newspaper sends him off to the Arkansas Ozarks, where his former partner in wandering, a black man named Jake Penn, may be responsible for a series of revenge killings.
Judson Gray is a pen name for prolific western writer Cameron Judd, and I think he wrote this one with the brakes off. There’s a fair amount of action, much of it with a dark tinge to it, common in Judd’s books, but there’s more filler than there should be in between. McCutcheon’s view of the world is more progressive than most men of the time — no flaw per se — but Judd’s use of non-period slang is jarring every once in a while. His characters are well drawn, though, and they add more to the story the plot does, built as well around a long-lasting feud between two extended families. Not a deep tale, in other words, but a quick read, one that will keep you awake until the final page is finished, but not very long afterward.