Louis L'Amour,
Borden Chantry
(Bantam, 1977)

It's a tough ol' life for poor Borden Chantry.

With his ranch failing, he takes his wife and son to town and accepts a job as marshal. He expects a quiet life -- it's not a very big town, after all -- but things start getting serious when a Sackett turns up dead.

He was no aimless drifter, and he wasn't the sort to pick a fight. But Chantry needs to solve the murder quickly before other Sacketts show up and tear the town apart to find the killer themselves.

Besides, the murders are only getting started, and Chantry himself is in the killer's sights.

The story is more of a mystery than L'Amour's usual, which tends to rely more on straightforward shooting. But he handles the genre well, keeping readers guessing to the end who the guilty party will be.

Chantry is an everyman sort of marshal. He's no great detective and, to be honest, no one in town seems to have much confidence that he'll solve the murder. But he knows his strengths and weaknesses, and he's stubborn about pursuing his leads long after most men would have given up.

L'Amour, as always, paints a vivid picture of his settings, putting readers right in the scene.

Borden Chantry is one of several novels to feature the Chantry family, which -- along with the Sacketts and the Talons -- are among L'Amour's most enduring characters.

book review by
Tom Knapp

17 December 2016

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