Louis L'Amour,
Ride the Dark Trail
(Bantam, 1972)

Logan Sackett, twin to Nolan and yet another member of the noble-yet-outlaw Clinch Mountain branch of the Sackett clan, finally gets his due in Ride the Dark Trail. Bonus, this book also introduces us to an aging clan matriarch, Emily Talon, nee Sackett, an aunt of sorts that Logan didn't know he had. Old Em has been surviving on her own, alone on a valuable ranch after her husband was murdered and her hands driven off or killed; her children, Milo and Barnabas Talon, are off in parts unknown, unaware that their ma is in trouble -- or, frankly, that she's even still alive.

Well, a Sackett never turned down a chance to help another Sackett, so Logan digs in to help Em Talon save her ranch from a gang of no-good, murderous, thievin' thugs, including their leader, Jake Flanner, who paid for killing Pa Talon when Em shot out both his kneecaps.

There's also a girl -- there's always a girl -- who takes up with Logan and Em after Logan saves her from a brutal employer who means her harm. There's a man who knows his European history who decides he likes fighting for the underdog. And them Talon boys, once they hear their mom's still alive and scrappin', are sure enough going to ride for home.

Ride the Dark Trail, like pretty much all L'Amour novels and, most especially, the Sackett series, is full of action. Logan is a flawed but ultimately heroic protagonist, and the amount of punishment he soaks up in this book is astonishing. Anything less than a Sackett and he'd be dead for sure.

This novel comes close to the end of the Sackett series, but fortunately I still have the early, pre-Civil War Sackett novels to read, as well as L'Amour's other storied families, the Talons and the Chantrys.

book review by
Tom Knapp

11 February 2017

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