Leaving Yuma

Written by Michael Zimmer
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

In 1907, J.T. Latham is serving a prison term in the Yuma Territorial Penitentiary for smuggling goods in Mexico. Because of his knowledge of the badlands around Sonora, Mexico, he is offered a pardon for rescuing the wife and children of a rich and powerful man named Ed Davenport. Latham learns that he is to help deliver the ransom for the release of Davenport’s family. A ruthless bandit chief named Chito Soto, along with Mexican rebels, is holding the family hostage in the town of Sabana, Mexico. The rescue group, consisting of Sherriff Del Buchman, Davenport, his employee Spencer and three Mexicans, is also faced with avoiding contact with the Yaqui Indian tribe, known for their hate of Mexicans and Americanos, and for torturing prisoners.

This novel is book three of the American Legends Collection, a mythical Federal Writers’ Project. Latham is interviewed in 1937, recounting his tale to a writer of the rescue attempt. In my opinion, Michael Zimmer is one of the best Western writers today. His novel is well researched, character-driven and suspense-filled until the conclusion. I have read several of his works and found each novel rewarding. If you have never read a Western novel before, I strongly suggest this book to be your first. Highly recommended.