Red Ruckus (A Morgan Clyde Western)

Written by Brett Cogburn
Review by G. J. Berger

Morgan Clyde, Yale class of 1852, was destined to become an industrial baron of the Old West. Instead he left his genteel wife and two young children to fight in the Civil War and then become a roaming railroad lawman and sometime federal marshal.

This story is set mostly on an Indian reservation in the hot summer of 1874. The fledgling US Secret Service and the local railroad jointly hire Morgan to clean up a band of corrupt deputy marshals and the crooked federal judge who protects them. The judge and his gang extort money from businesses and run illegal vice trades. They knife, shoot or hang anyone who doesn’t do their bidding. When that does not work, they frame them with false crimes tried in the judge’s courtroom.

Cogburn knows the land, how folks talked, and the details of their daily lives. He easily transports readers into that time and place. Interesting secondary characters enhance the main story. There’s an African-American horse thief with a sly sense of humor, a hardscrabble farmer who was once a shootist, and Morgan’s ex-wife. She’s now the proprietor of the finest hotel in the region and owner of a major cattle operation.

As expected, violence, death and near death propel the plot to a rousing shoot-out between the nasty gang and out-gunned Morgan. Some readers will want to know more about the corrupt judge atop the gang; not one scene focuses on him. But overall, this is a fast-paced quest of a righteous lawman for justice against impossible odds. Fans of Morgan Clyde will enjoy this third book in the series.