Sunday, October 14, 2018

Review of "The Sharpshooter," by Ed Gorman

Review of
The Sharpshooter, by Ed Gorman ISBN 0449148351

Five out of five stars
The main character of this story is a very flawed, yet good man named Mitch Coldwell. It is in the last decade of the nineteenth century and Mitch is a pistol sharpshooter in a wild west show. One of his acts was to shoot a cigarette out of the mouth of his son. For reasons that are not explained, something goes wrong and he shoots his son in the head, killing him. As a consequence, his wife leaves him, and he crawls into a bottle of alcohol.
 Mitch lives in a town owned and controlled by Jeremiah Belden, and his son Steve is scheduled to be hanged for murder. There is a jailbreak where two deputies and Steve are killed. Steve killed a man over a woman named Evelyn and Jeremiah blames her for his son’s death. Mitch is now friendly with Evelyn, so he is rapidly interjected between Evelyn and Jeremiah.
 Despite his issues with alcohol and deep grief over the death of his son, Mitch takes up Evelyn’s cause when she supposedly flees town. From this point of so-far largely routine business, the plot takes a rapid and unexpected turn at the end. Very little is what it seems to be and it was nearly the death of Mitch, who is shot and beaten several times.
 An interesting sidelight is the description of an insane asylum of the time period and how bad it was for the people that ended up as patients there. While Mitch cannot free them from their chains and cages, he deals very effectively with a brutal, sadistic guard.
 The story is well written and unlike many other western novels, bullets are not flying all the time. There is a lot of thought and consideration of the tragic circumstances of Mitch’s life and how he tries to live now.

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