Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Book Review: 'Lancer; Hero of the West, The Broken Bow Affair' by Bob Brill

Front Cover

A richly flavorful Western!

California author is a baseball historian, a news anchor (CBS Radio LA; KNX 1070 News Radio), journalist (UPI, Los Angeles Times), and has won many broadcast awards, most notably the Edward R. Murrow Award for his coverage of the 2011 storms. He has also written screenplays, and this new book recalls the quality western films of yesteryear! 

In Brill’s many books his art of journalism blends with his obvious capacity for story weaving. This fact is especially evident in his ongoing western tales. The books in the LANCER: HERO OF THE WEST series include ‘affairs’ in Los Angeles, Prescott, Santa Fe, El Paso, and Broken Bow, Nebraska – the latter being the setting for this volume. He has created a fine primary character in Lancer, his good guy gun for hire who works with the law, not against it. As the author states in his Foreword, ‘In Broken Bow, you see once again Lancer meets up with legendary and historical characters. It is a trademark of the series and fun for this author to research. You may or may not recognize the names but we hope you enjoy their presence.’ That is the driving force that makes this series of book so completely enjoyable. 

The quality of prose fits the subject matter so well that even in the opening paragraphs the flavor of the Old West brews: ‘The rain awakened Lancer this morning, pounding on his hotel room window. The Arizona lightning combined with the accompanying thunder didn’t seem to bother the gunslinger as he slept through the night. The rain was welcome in southeastern Arizona, even though it turned the dusty streets of Tombstone into muddy slush and made keeping one’s boots in what seemed like eternal brown gunk. Lancer opened the curtains to gaze upon the street below and through the drops on the window he could see commerce still proceeded in the boomtown. Silver was still king and when a miner found the strike he was hoping for the first place he went was usually the saloon. While he should have gone to the assayer’s office, the saloon had its calling. There the likes of anyone dealing cards or spinning a roulette wheel found a new friend. Wyatt Earp was one of the most trusted and though he tried to make sure the miner with the rich vein knew what he should do, it wasn’t the former lawman’s job to make it happen. After all, this was the Wild West and it was every man for himself.’

Providing a very condensed synopsis of the story whets the urge to enter this world – ‘Lancer; Hero of the West is summoned to Broken Bow, Nebraska by the local Cattleman's Association to solve a case of cattle rustling. The Tombstone based Lancer heads to the plains in the heart of Nebraska's cattle ranching territory. Along the way our hero meets famous legendary characters including some very strong ladies. The tangled web he discovers and the trail of dead bodies during his investigation into the rustling will intrigue you and keep you turning those pages to see who might be implicated next.’

For those who love Wild West dramas, this book sails to the top of the list. Highly recommended. 

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.