Things Are Not Always As They Seem
By Jim Duggins, Ph.D. (Rancho Mirage, CA USA)
This Amazon review is from: Murder for Greenhorns (Warbonnet Mystery) (Paperback)
For an interesting diversion for mystery/hystorical novel aficionados try “Murder for Greenhorns” by Robert Kresge, a pleasant beach book read. This story is fast moving, offers the expected bashful cowboy and a gal fleeing her eastern past for a position as schoolmarm in the western town of Wasrbonnet, Wyoming. There, two strangers are accompanied by famed marshal Sasm Taggart when they are bushwhacked and the marshal is killed.
The two, Kate Shaw and Monday Malone team up to try to find out who dunnit. The clever plot then twists as the cowboy assumes the identity of the dead marshal and give his name to the cadaver, buried as Sam Taggart. As the new marshal replacing the dead man, “Murder for Greenhorns” then revolves around a two week period they have to solve problems which is then tensed by their acceptance by the townspeople who know nothing of the lie [the death of the legitimate marshal], they’ve invented as a “cover.” while they search for the murderer(s).
“Murder for Greenhorns” is an engaging fast read as its plot develops amidst an increasing set of twists and turns, the puritanical values regulated for women vs. the women-hungry miners and ranchers in the area. A strength and weakness may lie in the language of these folks – no four letter words we’d censor in a YA novel, but sometimes artificial among men on a ranch or working a mine.
While the plot is complicated enough to hold your attention and to entertain you, characterization is too “expected.” Good against bad, and cardboard roles that are defended but never maturely developed. A good fast read for plane or beach.
When lawman Sam Taggart is killed by a long-range rifle shot, his two traveling companions, newly-minted schoolteacher Kate Shaw and Texas cowboy Monday Malone, are left unharmed. The shooter’s tracks point toward their destination, the town of Warbonnet. Since Kate and the marshal were hired sight-unseen, on the basis of letters, she persuades a reluctant Monday to take Taggart’s identity in hopes of rooting out the killer.
Now these two greenhorns have to survive long enough to find a murderer. Can they also endure the bitter secrets each of them carries in their hearts?
After a career as a CIA senior analyst, Rob Kresge was inspired by early Wyoming history, a territory and state which, to paraphrase Churchill on the Balkans, “manufactured more history than could be consumed locally.” Kresge took pieces from his own background (such as learning to ride in Wyoming’s Tetons) to craft a story made possible by the lack of identity documents in the early West. “Basically, you could be anyone you claimed to be. Unless you met up with someone who knew better.”
About the Author:
Rob Kresge grew up in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC, but got to travel to the West as a boy. He graduated from the University of Missouri with a bachelor of journalism degree in 1968, served four years on active duty in the Army (including 1969-70 in Vietnam), got married in 1973 and joined the CIA that same year. He worked as an analyst on Vietnam, North Korea, international terrorism (two tours, including as a founding member of the Counterterrorist Center), gray market arms dealers (like terrorists, but with suits, yachts, and private jets), and sanctions on the former Yugoslavia that contributed to the Dayton Peace Accords in the Balkans.
Rob retired from the Army Reserve in 1998 and from the CIA in 2002. Since then, he has lived and written in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife and first reader, Julie.