Rio Chama

Written by Johnny D. Boggs
Review by John Kachuba

New Mexico Territory in the 1890s was as wild as the West could be with gunslingers, cattle rustlers, and hostile Indians, trying to outsmart, outsteal, and outshoot each other. Three-time Spur Award winner Johnny D. Boggs captures the excitement and drama of those times in the story of notorious gunman Britton Wade’s attempt to bring to justice a young man convicted of lynching a priest.

But the murderer, Jeremiah Cole, is the son of Senator Robert Cole, the most powerful man in New Mexico Territory. The senator has no intention of letting his son hang for killing the priest, despite the fact that young Cole admitted to the crime. Why would a man like Wade—an outlaw and dying consumptive—risk the senator’s wrath to bring Cole to Chama where he is sentenced to hang? As Wade’s story unfolds, it becomes clear that there is more than simple justice at stake. Ultimately, the story becomes that of a man’s search for redemption for a life lived badly and for a restoration of a faith he thought he had lost long ago. Rio Chama is an engrossing Western with several surprising twists and well worth the read.