Clayton Sharp: Life or Death

Written by Eugene J. DiCesaris
Review by G. J. Berger

Fifty-one-year-old marshal Ray DeSean watches over the quiet Colorado town of Dead Elk. But, in the fall of 1867, trouble arrives. The Clayton Sharp gang has been spotted, and a Ute war party is stirring up trouble. DeSean heads out alone to find and bring in the Sharp gang but gets ambushed and left for dead. Clayton Sharp, separated from his fellow gang members, has teamed up with two Mormons headed for Utah, a young lass named Annie and her uncle, Ward. Ward leads the trio close to Pueblo, where his sister and brother-in-law run a nice store and rest stop. Meanwhile, the U.S. has dispatched Buffalo Soldiers to quiet the Ute uprising and also arrest the Clayton gang. One romance between Annie and Clayton and another romance between DeSean and a local Native American seamstress blossom.

Too many characters, coincidences, gunfights and dead bodies, flashbacks of decades past, and asides that range from General Custer to man-attacking wolves overwhelm readers in this short novel. A pared-down but more developed story might have worked better.