“A man’s got to have a code, a creed to live by.” – John Wayne
What exactly is power? Is it having the influence or ability to control people and situations? Is it holding an important position in society or government? Or could it be simply wealth? For some, it may be gaining respect from their fellow human beings. But power can also drive a wedge into society; it can create separation between the classes, a divide based on the have’s and have not’s. But then this isn’t a recent phenomenon or a situation rising out of a particular point in history. There have always been large numbers of people who live their lives subjugated and under the control of a few. These people have often come to accept their lot as the ‘natural course of law,’ or see it as the dictate of fate.
When the ‘ruling’ class begins to ignore its responsibilities and starts exploiting those below them, it sets the stage for revolt. For that to happen, however, a catalst is necessary. Someone not bound by the iron chains of resignation must appear. By his example he shows that one can fight against odds and emerge victorious.
In author Richard Dawes’ new novel, Death Song, which is the second book in the Tucson Kid Western series. The Tucson Kid is sentenced to death when he’s accused of murder after killing a man in a gunfight. He is bought out of his sentence by a young woman, Dolores Vargas, daughter of a rich land owner, Don Alessandro. Dolores has her own reasons for hiring Tucson. She asks him to find out a secret that she thinks her father is hiding. The Tucson Kid must join the gang of outlaws led by a ruthless bandit called Augustine Baca to find out the secret Baca is holding over Don Alessandro. Along the way Tucson finds romance with Dolores Vargas and a young peasant girl, Rosita. The story pounds to a thrilling and explosive climax in a battle to the death between good and evil.
In Death Song, the Tucson Kid is back doing what he does best. He becomes a mythical God of death and destruction when his fury is roused. One thing you have to love about this character, the Tucson Kid is a killer with a principle – he doesn’t kill unless it is the only solution. Either in self-defense, or when a situation demands that he stand up for the rights of the downtrodden. There’s a lot of political thought that Richard Dawes presents in this book. He points out that differences in classes have always existed and probably always will exist. But that doesn’t mean the exploitation of one group by another can go unnoticed simply in the name of honour or aristocratic lineage.
What makes Death Song a winner like the previous book in the series is the unseen work of a very talented editor. By setting the correct pace throughout the narration, the author and editor have ensured that there isn’t a single page that won’t hold your interest or will make you gloss over the lines. This is one of the plusses of this book, along with Richard Dawes’ genius for beautifully and vividly setting up the background for each of his characters.
Augustine Baca as the villain is bad beyond belief and an equal adversary to the Tucson Kid. But Tucson’s prowess finds no match either in Baca or among his men, or Don Alessandro’s vaqueros. You find yourself rooting for him through his every violent action because you feel he is fighting for the truth or has a nobler reason behind what he does.
I most definitely recommend this classic Western format of storytelling in which one man fighting for justice and honour takes on an entire army of bad guys to emerge victorious at the end. There’s plenty of romance and humour to keep your interest until the very last page. Death Song’s Tucson Kid is a brilliant protagonist who is all too human with inhuman capabilities who is also supremely likeable, and has a host of great supporting characters who all turn this into a must read novel of the year.
- Paperback: 162 pages
- Publisher: Melange Books (January 30, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1612358004
- ISBN-13: 978-1612358000