Tag: adventure book
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Of the few dozen Johnstone Clan novels I’ve read, few were published during William Johnstone’s lifetime. This one was. Considering the few books written at the time by him, I figure this one may have been written by Johnstone himself and not one of the herd of ghost writers to come.
Unfortunately, this is the worst of the books I’ve read possibly actually written by Johnstone. I can read a formula cast in the structure of the book. At the time he was also producing the Smoke Jensen series and this book too much reflects those. You could swap out the hero for Jensen. Not that it ruins the novel, just that it indicates Johnstone’s later actions of employing ghost writers considering how much he was able to produce, apparently, plot-wise.
The entire premise is hard to believe, which means the writer failed to connect his plot with the reader. Basically involves bad guys taking over a town with a vision of taking over the world in their way. The idea of the seduction of the townspeople seems more real today than possible in 1985. Still more than far fetched.
One of the most important things to take from this book is Johnstone’s writing of the farming industry and what was and would be happening. Younger people will have a great deal of trouble understanding what he is writing in that what he wrote has not only happened but is so buried in the commercial maelstrom, that the idea of the independent family farms that produce for the U.S. to such a high level will be hard to perceive.
The writing in the book is less than standard. The setting is described at points, but I never got the feel of the place as I have in so many other Johnstone Clan novels. That character construction is also far less than the usual stellar efforts of a Johnstone novel. The most interesting characters, to me, is the father and one named ‘Lila’, but little is done with them.
I figure this book is a sign of the stress of producing too many books at the same time by Johnstone.
Bottom line: I don’t recommend this book. 6 out of 10 points.
This is the first of a very short Johnstone Clan series of two books, this one and ‘Border War’. This one has in it what the Johnstone Clan does best: Creating a well developed series of characters the reader cares about. It amazes me the scores of characters I’ve read about in the many Johnstone Clan books and how very few are similar. Really quite extraordinary.
The bad guys, on the other hand, can tend to be similar in the books I’ve read. The bad guys in this one are similar to a number of others in previous books.
The story unfolds and takes a few directions i didn’t see coming. No twist in the story, but, as can happen in Johnstone Clan books, characters do things and things happen to them that really moves the story and makes it even more intriguing.
The ending is not all that unexpected, but still satisfying. I’m going to straight to book 2 of the series.
Bottom line: I recommend this book.
As usual the writing is good and the characterizations are very good. It’s just that it’s much same plot as so many of the Smoke Jensen series. Town taken over, Smoke comes to save the day. The bad guy is getting really repeated as another who kills puppies and eats children, or something along those lines.
What’s really disappointing is not even a twist in the story. There are a few alteration of characters, but that is all to lead to a conclusion we ‘Mountain Man’ readers know too well. Seems to me one alteration was Smoke in general. Smoke, seems to me, acting very different in this book from how he handles the bad guys and the interaction with other characters. This could be a sign of a different ghost writer.
Another trouble is the length of this one. I think about a third could’ve been cut out and focus more on the sheriff and Smoke and make this a tighter volume. There’s way too much nearly identical narrative and dialog from other books.
The volume before this, ‘Pursuit of the Mountain Man’, was a terrific diversion from this town takeover template and I hope the other volumes I’ve hunted down take more the ‘Pursuit’ trail.
Bottom line: Well, I see I need to have two.
1) If you’ve been reading the ‘Mountain Man’ series – No, don’t read it. This is more of the same.
2) If you haven’t read any or little of the series, Yes, read it.