Friday, April 20, 2012

North Reckoning (A western reviewed)

Title:  North Reckoning
Author:  J. T. Jernberg

Pages:  170

Year:  2007
Publisher:  Dorrance Publishing Co. Inc.

Note:  I received a complimentary copy from the publisher as a member of Dorrance Review Team. “Membership and participation in the Team is simple.  Visit for more information on how you can sign up to become a member. “

                Ever since I can remember I have loved westerns.  It doesn’t matter whether it is movies, books, or TV shows.  I am not a fan of the westerns that feel it is necessary to show all the blood, gore, sexual content, or foul language.  My favorite western writer is Louis L’Amour.  He wrote more than westerns and left behind many unfinished stories, but he could stir the imagination of the reader with words.  North Reckoning is a story set after the Civil War during a very unsettling time for all Americans.  Many people were heading west for adventure, a life of crime, or to start over.
                Never before have I read a western written by this author, and while the story is exceedingly captivating, I wish the author had left out the foul language.  The main character is John North, who is bent on revenge for the killing of his parents and brother.  John is wounded during the attack and left to die, but is helped by a Good Samaritan and lives.  Many years pass, but he continues his hunt never realizing what is missing in his life or what he would do with his life when he is done.
                While searching in a mining camp at Fortune River, John succeeds in locating and exacting revenge on one man, while befriending a gold miner at the same time.  The gold miner won’t reveal why he wants to come along and help John.  Elijah will only tell him that when the time is right he will reveal his reasons.  As they travel together to locate the other men involved in the crime, they help save the lives of people traveling on a stage coach.  A newlywed couple are passengers and have been married for only six months.  There is also another man on his way to return to his wife and children in California.  Hannah is a smart lady, who married a man named Edward.  He acted one way during the courtship, but revealed his true beastly nature after the marriage.  How do a married couple, a man from California, and a gold miner get entangled in the journey John Reckoning has set his feet upon?

                In this story there is love, commitment, revenge, various nationalities, robbery, plus murder.  The various characters have something in common--a past that includes the Civil War that colors their outlook on life.  There are people bent to harm any and all who cross their path, yet what is their reason?  Some of those described in the story have high values and can discern a person’s virtue within minutes of either seeing them or talking to them.  There is a doctor who seeks to save lives no matter what.  There are strong family ties that make men decide how they act when a showdown occurs in a town called Copperhead.
                What is especially entertaining is that toward the end of the book, the author begins to take a single incident, show the outcome of it and what happens to those involved.  He then fast forwards to many years ahead see how they lived through changes like the invention of the horseless carriage.  I thought this was an excellent way to bring to a close the many lives that were intertwined during a particular incident a year earlier.  The ending is especially touching, but I won’t ruin it for you.  You will just have to read this western for yourself.  My rating is a 3/5 stars and would be a 5-star if it weren’t for the cussing interspersed throughout the book.

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