The Dark Sunrise (A Sheriff Aaron Mackey Western)

Written by Terrence McCauley
Review by G. J. Berger

In late summer 1889, Montana Territory US Marshal Aaron Mackey has finally captured the homicidal and corrupt mayor of Dover Station, James Grant. But Grant does not go quietly. He hires the area’s best lawyer and a band of outlaws led by Mackey’s former commanding army officer and archenemy, Nathan Rigg. Grant has also allied with the nearby Hancock clans, who all yearn to avenge Mackey’s killing of one of their leaders.

Mackey and his deputy, with Grant in chains, make it to the train which will take them to the territorial main city, Helena. There Grant should get a proper trial before hanging. But nothing comes easy. A peculiar judge makes light of Grant’s crimes and lets him go. Grant, Rigg, and the Hancock marauders plot to kill Mackey, his new bride, and Mackey’s father. Then they will destroy Dover Station and rebuild it so they own the whole town. Only Mackey, his deputy, and a few allies from the past are left to try to stop them.

McCauley’s knowledge of early Montana and those who strove to forge a life there are evident. This fourth Aaron Mackey novel is not just a rough-and-tumble Western page-turner. Violent episodes are nicely balanced by quiet passages of the adversaries planning how to stay alive and strike. McCauley deftly explores unbridled evil and the victim’s impulse to soul-numbing revenge. Not all the good people survive; not all the bad men and women are brought to justice. But that makes the whole story all the more authentic. Highly recommended for readers of the Old West.