Thursday, April 5, 2018

Review: Sharpshooter

Sharpshooter (Byrnes Family Ranch (Book - 12) by Dusty Richards

Publication Date: 03/27/2018
Publisher: Kensington
Imprint: Pinnacle
Genre: Western
Pages: 416

(Received for an honest review from Kensington via Netgalley)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes

Dusty Richards on the WEB: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Books in the series:

  1. Texas Bloodfeud
  2. Between Hell and Texas
  3. Chaparral Range War
  4. Blood on the Verde River
  5. Brothers in Blood
  6. Ambush Valley
  7. A Good Day to Kill
  8. Arizona Territory
  9. Pray for the Dead
10. Deadly is the Night
11. Valley of Bones
12. Sharpshooter

Coverart: Click the image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.

Excerpt from Sharpshooter, courtesy of Barnes & Noble


Western Heritage and Western Writers of America Spur Award-winning author Dusty Richards spins a thrilling new tale in the epic Byrnes family saga . . .
In the brutal, unforgiving wastes of the Arizona desert, Chet Byrnes built a cattle ranching empire with his bare hands, steel will, and a fast draw. As the U.S. marshal, he risks his life to bring law to a lawless land.

When a new railroad route is planned to pass through Navajo territory, Chet fights to get the Indians a contract to supply the locomotives with coal. But the corrupt politicians in Tucson and D.C. have other ideas. The coal contract means millions, and the ruthless Tucson Ring will do anything to get it—even if it means killing a U.S. marshal. Battling bandits, the railroad, and a corrupt gang of millionaires, Chet won’t back down until the desert is painted red with blood.


The Western writers world was saddened by the passing of author Dusty Richards in January of this year. Richards was an award winning author who wrote over eighty novels. He worked on The Byrnes Family Ranch series up until his death. Sharpshooter is the twelfth book in this hard hitting western series about the Arizona desert and a family determined to make their mark despite everything from range wars to indians, to railroad contracts. Richards was a very no nonsense writer and readers appreciated his style and found it appropriate to the times he was writing about. He will be missed.

What I liked:

One thing that has always struck me about Richards' writing is that his focus is usually on the relationships that he has created throughout the series. In this book the relationship between Chet Byrnes, the hero and his wife Lisa is important, as well as Chet's relationship with his men and with the Indians. Richards is able to convey so many things through the familial and friendship bonds. He used a style that incorporated both Chet's past with each person and the present. It was slightly hard to follow but gave the reader a sense of the history and how it was affecting the events going on in this book. 

Chet, is quite the hero. He has a very clear cut set of values and morals. He is a US Marshal who takes his job seriously and in Sharpshooter that job is to the get the Indians a contract to provide coal for the railroad company. But there are a lot of obstacles standing in his way of that. I thought Chet personified what a reader expects from a western hero. He was strong and level headed. A man who was determined to see things through in spite of any opposition and if that meant blood, so be it. Richards was able to show Chet as an alpha male cowboy, but still vulnerable and real. 

The plot was an interesting concept. I liked the idea that Richards was using the westward expansion of the railroad in his story. It gave the book a more authentic feel. The wild west was indeed wild and Richards was able to capture that idea and run with it. I liked the sense of urgency and it allowed the book to have a good steady pace once the initial introduction to the plot was done. I had often wondered myself how the Indians felt about the railroad and it's intrusion into their territory. The idea that perhaps they would be able to at least profit from it was in some way was satisfying. 

What I didn't like:

The book switched back and forth quite a bit between the past and present. Readers who are familiar with the past relationships of the characters probably will not have any trouble following what's going on but if you are a new readers to the Byrnes Family Ranch series, it might be a bit daunting. Keeping everyone and everything straight is not for the faint of heart in this one. 

I love a good western and I have read many. I know that during this time period in history women were treated significantly different than they are now a days. However, I generally prefer strong female characters. Richards often uses female characters but they don't always comes across as large and in charge, lol... I tend to get a little frustrated when women are relegated to the back burner in a story and that's kind of what happens in most books about the period including this one. Mostly, a personal preference but something to take note of. 

Repetition, repetition, repetition... That's what we say when we are trying to teach something. Remind and repeat over and over. I felt  that there were parts of this book that were on auto repeat. The same plot elements used multiple times. The same stories repeated more than once and the same people doing all the talking. Don't get me wrong. It was still good but you could have cut a bit and still ended up with the exact same story. 

Bottom Line:

This was a good book. Richards focused on relationships and continued to bring the Byrnes family to life. I liked the plot points and the idea of a coal contract with the Indians. Chet was a good hero and I felt like I learned so much about him in this book that I didn't know before. But there were a few issues that might cause some concern. The book repeated itself a lot and it was hard to keep the past and the present in perspective. It skipped around a little too much and the overall language was slightly are to pick up on. Once you got used to it, it was fine but it took a little while. I'm sorry that Dusty Richards will not be able to continue his legacy with more books about the West. He was truly a great author of the western genre. 

Sharpshooter is available NOW from your favorite bookseller. 

I'm giving this one 3 out of 5 apples from my book bag

About the Author:

Author of over 85 novels, Dusty Richards is the only author to win two Spur awards in one year (2007), one for his novel The Horse Creek Incident and another for his short story “Comanche Moon.” He is a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the International Professional Rodeo Association, and serves on the local PRCA rodeo board. Dusty is also an inductee in the Arkansas Writers Hall of Fame. He currently resides in northwest Arkansas. He was the winner of the 2010 Will Rogers Medallion Award for Western Fiction for his novel  Texas Blood Feud and honored by the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2009.

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