This Chap O’Keefe western was originally published in 2007 and has now been re-released as an e-book. If you want a well-paced story with character, you can’t go wrong if you choose a Chap O’Keefe book. His characters aren’t all good or all bad. This is a human story about love, romance, passion, greed, betrayal and ego that just happens to be set in the historical Wild West.
The Double H ranch in Texas is run by best pals Jim Hunter and Matt Harrison. Unfortunately, the Civil War is affecting business – it had taken away the hands and rustlers and ne’er-do-wells raided the place. One such raid killed their last remaining loyal hand, Walt Burridge, and Jim vows to avenge his death. Then the two friends find their sympathies lie with different sides - Matt for the North, Jim for the South. They went their separate ways.
Jim is befriended by Lena-Marie Baptiste – a woman who was a born leader who expected men to do her bidding – ‘I’ve never loved anyone else quite like you,’ he whispered, either telling a lie or forgetting, or a bit of both. Lena-Marie is aided by her brother. Linking up with them, he gets involved in gun-running against the Northern blockades. Their association lasted until the end of the war. Jim finally returned to the Double H, but things had changed. It would be unfair to reveal more. O’Keefe provides us with a believable love triangle concerning the two pals and love-interest Alice that splits their friendship apart.
Hovering over the story is a sense of impending doom, the making of a tragedy. There are plenty of atmospheric moments, too: The air was scented by Drummond onion, with its white, purple-tinged flowers, and by dusky-pink evening primroses that clustered along the slopes.’
We see the hardship endured under the Reconstruction, and meet the powerful McAuley: (his) success in business was based in large measure on his talent for masking the devious workings of a quick mind. Duplicity, therefore, came to him with practiced ease. A little hypocrisy could often turn a big profit. Likewise, his political sympathies had been placed with acumen rather than sincerity, making him an influential force in affairs of local administration and giving him the confidence he could take anything he wanted.
Great description! McAuley isn’t a nice man to know. He insists on having sex with the female teacher of his children: McAuley raised the chemise and turned it up over her shoulders, then his fingers reached for the buttons of her drawers...
The plot thickens as Alice is lusted after by McAuley. The emotional conflict is pervasive, too: ‘The sun was rising but Alice felt like it was going down on her world.’
O’Keefe is not averse to his protagonists getting rough treatment, either. ‘She endured all the depravity that could be visited on a woman. Death would be a merciful release.’ Strong stuff, indeed. Not everyone survives at the end.
There’s also an interesting afterword by the author, ‘The heart of a Western’.
Peace at Any Price Paperback – Unabridged, 1 April 2009
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Paperback, Large Print, Unabridged
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- Paperback : 235 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1847826245
- ISBN-13 : 978-1847826244
- Dimensions : 12.7 x 1.52 x 18.54 cm
- Publisher : Linford; Large type / Large print - Unabridged edition (1 April 2009)
- Language: : English
- Customer Reviews:
4 out of 5
1 global rating