Louis L'Amour,
Mojave Crossing
(Bantam, 1964)

William Tell Sackett, fresh from mining for gold in Sackett (and with his relationship with Ange Kerry still uncertain), is riding for California to trade gold for goods, which he plans to pack back to Arizona to sell at a profit. En route, he gets mixed up with a black-eyed girl who's being hunted by dangerous men, so he agrees to escort her safely across the desert.

Bad idea, Tell.

Mojave Crossing suffers a bit because it's bookended between Sackett and The Sackett Brand, two of the best titles in the series. Sure, there are gunfights, betrayal and pirate gold to be reckoned with, along with that black-eyed girl, whose goals are rarely clear, but compared to the other books, this feels a little like a placeholder for ol' Tell.

Notable, however, is the introduction of Nolan Sackett, a gunfighter and sometimes outlaw from the Clinch Mountain branch of the Sackett clan. He's kin, but that doesn't mean he cares either way if his cousin Tell gets a bullet.

Mojave Crossing is good as a stand-alone novel, but it doesn't stand particularly high on the list of Sackett books. Sackett Brand is next, and that's a rollercoaster about to begin.

book review by
Tom Knapp

10 September 2016

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