The Widowmaker, Book One: Invitation to a Hanging

Written by Robert J. Randisi
Review by Steve Lewis

Robert Randisi is known for writing hundreds of books in various “adult” western series, including almost all of the Gunsmith series, and most of them published as by someone other than Randisi. The sex scenes are toned down considerably in this, the first of a new series under his own name, but if that sounds like a recommendation, you really shouldn’t take it as one.

There is a smidgeon of historical background worked into this comeback adventure of John Locke, the marshal of Tombstone who was dismissed (for cause) a year before the fireworks at the OK Corral took place. Doc Holliday takes a small but active role, for example, and Wyatt Earp appears briefly at the end. Known for his drunken disappearance down into Mexico, Locke is hired to supervise the hanging of a notorious desperado in a small Texas town, but there are plans in the works that he does not know about.

There is a fair amount of witty banter that goes on—there’s far more dialogue than usual in a western—but there’s no sense of time or place, no skill in description, and Locke’s grand plan to guard against the killer’s gang as they come rescue their leader is one of the dumbest on record. Plot lines are either revealed too soon, and or as in the case of occasionally intriguing events and possibilities, simply go nowhere. Awesomely awful.