Tuesday, March 27, 2012

San Angelo Showdown by William W. Johnstone

Publisher: GraphicAudio (2007)

Narrated by: Thomas Penny and Full Cast

Blurb from Goodreads: Young Matt Bodine and Sam Two Wolves became blood brothers on the day the rancher's son saved the halfbreed's life, forging a bond no one could ever break. Beneath the Montana big sky, Matt learned the ways of the Cheyenne from his friend. And as years passed, a legend grew of the breed and the white man who rode together—and who could jerk killing iron with the best of them…

This was a Western full of cliches, from the characters themselves to the situations presented. Yet, I had fun with it. William Johnstone gave us two good guys that we could root for without any guilt - Matt Bodine and Sam Two Wolves. They have been gallivanting about the desert Southwest for 6 prior books - and no, I didn't feel like I had missed anything important by jumping in the middle.

In this episode, our heroes get deputized into the Texas Rangers by Josiah Finch in order to track down a gang of mis-behaving buffalo hunters and bring them to justice. However, there are a couple of things working against them, such as these two bureaucrats from Washington DC with orders to keep US law enforcers from violating the Mexican border, even if it is in order to bring the bad guys to order. In addition to that, the Dingo Waley gang has worked out a financial arrangement with the officials of the Mexican territory that butts up against Texas; they can do misdeeds on the US side and ride like hell to Mexico, where they will be sheltered, for a sizable fee of course.

Most of this book is staged at San Angelo and Fort Concho, with nearly everyone crossing the Rio Grande at one point or another. Leeds is the local military law-enforcement and is sworn to uphold the rules dished out by DC and hence, has to hinder our heroes from crossing the Rio Grande. He's an OK guy, so he only gets knocked on his ass.

A second group of two-bit crooks complicate matters with some dynamite - they are bank robbers without a well-thought out plan. But while spending quality time in jail, they learn that a captured member of the Waley gang is tattle-telling on Dingo and his crew. So these idiots come up with the idea of breaking out, riding to Mexico, and chatting with Dingo. They hope to become part of his crew. Now Dingo has two reasons to go back to the area - to steal a large shipment of gold and to eliminate his former gang-member.

Matt and Sam are being wined and dined by Finch and Leeds and the local ladies. They are some of the best shots in the Western US and their legend has proceeded them. They are all around good guys and perfect gentlemen to the ladies. In fact, it is hard to find any bad habits embedded in these two, which feeds into the cliches mentioned above.

Thomas Penny and crew did a good job with the narrations. Once again, GraphicAudio produced a 5 CD long radio production. The background sound effects and the full cast brought this book to life.

Pluses: Brain candy; pretty bland and inoffensive; lots of horses; Southwest setting; fun audio production.

Minuses: Few females, all interchangeable; sometimes the cliches were a little thick; predictable; the numerous bad guys tended to blend together, even in voice.

Rating: 5 out of 10 (based on storyline only, 4; but the audio bumps it up a notch)