West of Penance

Written by Thomas D. Clagett
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

It’s 1875 in New Mexico Territory. The archbishop from Santa Fe approaches Father Clement Grantaire, requesting funds to help build his new cathedral. Before Clement became a pastor, he was a gambler. Clement suggests to the archbishop that he knows a way to collect the funds required to finish the project. Changing clothes, he heads to Fort Union, where he wins over a thousand dollars in a card game. Upon his return to his parish, he is bushwhacked and his money is stolen. Nursed back to health by a young woman, she tells him of the ongoing war between squatters and new owners of the Maxwell Land Grant. He then learns of the identity of the man who stole his money and devises a way to get it back.

What an entertaining read! Prepared to be immersed in the story’s twists and turns while Father Clement tries to get his money back while involving himself in the land war and helping the woman who saved his life. The novel is well researched in New Mexican history during the late 19th century. Also, be prepared for a surprise ending!