Book Report: Terror Near Town by James R. Wilder (2017)

Book coverI got this book in June of last year at the author’s book signing at ABC Books. It was the same weekend that I got Tea in the Time of COVID, so apparently I am making a tear through the books I bought that weekend. AND apropos of nothing, this is the second book I’ve read this month with the word terror in the title (Terror Intent being the other).

So when I bought this book, I mentioned one in the series has the town name of Grubville in the title, and I grew up in northwestern Jefferson County, so I know where Grubville is–along with a lot of the other towns (Cedar Hill, Dittmer, House Springs, Murphy Flats–when I lived in the trailer, it was in Murphy, and my sainted mother was the only one who affected to call it Murphy Flats) and other geographical markers (Big River, Meramac River). So I got a bit of a kick out of reading a Western novel set where I partly grew up.

The book centers on a young man freshly back from Cuba as part of the Rough Riders. He rescues a horse and brings it home to his family’s ranch, where they raise horses and mules. A neighboring farmhouse burned down, killing all inside but for a pretty young lady, so the Harbisons–the ranch family–take her in and help her manage her family’s cattle. Meanwhile, the young men on the ranch have encounters with the local ruffians, who it turns out helped start the fire that killed the girl’s family because her father was in a financial scam that took an out-of-town man who wants his revenge.

So it’s got a number of Western set pieces, and it’s got a lot of vignette/slice of life stuff to give you a feel for life in the era, but it’s a little light on the plot–I wasn’t sure of the main conflict until the big gun fight two thirds of the way through the book.

Still, it’s a pleasant read, although not really a mystery–perhaps the other books in the series will have more mystery to them. And I am looking forward to reading the others in the line, but only after the end of February and the Winter 2022 Reading Challenge. Where this book slots into the Set in Missouri category.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories