Second in a series about the Indian struggles in 1873 Northern California, Belanger has once again penned a riveting tale. The review from Time iRead says it “captures the Sam Peckinpah school.” Sure enough! In fact, this rendition of the Lava Beds War, loaded with gore, outdoes Peckinpah! At times, the writing becomes the poetry of horror, and Belanger weaves the words of era songs in and out of his prose. Too bad this book didn’t come with a soundtrack.
A senseless cavalry charge into a sleeping Modoc camp filled with squaws and children touches off a revenge fight from Hell. Modoc Indian, Hooker Jim, rampages against the pioneers–disemboweling, bashing out brains, severing heads and ears– leaving mutilated bodies to ever-circling crows. Sharp pictures of the $13.00 a month trooper, mostly German and Irish immigrants, present expectations regarding duty, honor and country in the United States First Cavalry. Other depicted characters come alive, heightening readers’ historical interest: ambitious Shaman Sho Oks, and the scheming rancher, Krueger; troubled, General Edward Canby, veteran of the Mexican and Civil Wars; President Ulysses Grant; and Chief of Staff, General William Sherman. Impeccably researched, for fans of genre westerns, this one is a must read.