Devil's Ride West
reviewed by Pam Guynn
In the second book in the Jake Paynter western series, author David Nix takes readers to the Wyoming Territory in 1869. Most of the story takes place in and around South Pass City, an area with ranches and, more recently, adventurers and immigrants searching for gold. The author weaves mystery, action, and overwhelming odds into a fight for justice in this historical western crime thriller.
Jake Paynter is a wanted man with a $1000 bounty on this head. This means every outlaw, bounty hunter, and lawman is looking for him. He’s been living with the Shoshone for several months when he decides it’s time to hide out in Yellowstone. However, his friends, Gus Rivers and Stacy Blue, show up asking for his help. Miners in South Pass City are being murdered and the town Marshall refuses to investigate claiming it’s wolves. But is it?
Paynter is a well-formed character with depth. However, this protagonist is far from perfect, especially in his own eyes. Readers slowly gain knowledge of his childhood, his time before and during the war, as well as what has happened since and how those events have shaped his perceptions and actions. He is a tortured but capable main character. A wide variety of diverse supporting characters makes this feel authentic. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Esther Morris was an actual person that lived in the Wyoming Territory during this period.
The story starts out strong and has a riveting plot that keeps readers engaged. The author brought a strong sense of time and place to the events in the book. I could easily visualize the town, the people, and the landscape. The action somehow managed to seem plausible for the times even though it was definitely extreme and Paynter faced overwhelming odds. Nix is a superb storyteller who kept me turning the pages with gripping scenes and a fantastic plot. However, Paynter’s relationships with his friends and those in need were one of the most compelling aspects of this tale. This action-packed novel features friendship, justice, comradery, child abuse, murder, righting wrongs, grift, bribery, corruption, and coercion.
Overall, this book was an action-filled crime thriller in a historical western setting. I highly recommend this novel to those that looking for a western with exceptional characters, intense fight scenes, a mystery to be solved, and an absorbing plot. While the books are best read in order to get the full picture, this one works as a standalone novel.
SOURCEBOOKS Casablanca and David Nix provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for May 24, 2022.