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Reviewed by Paul F. Murray for Readers' Favorite
Alta Vista (Sage Country Book Two) by Dan Arnold is a fascinating story about the Old West, just as it was turning into the New West at the end of the nineteenth century and the dawn of the twentieth. The titular character, Sheriff John Sage, provides the viewpoint and works to rid his town, Bear Creek, Colorado, and Alta Vista County of the murdering and bank robbing Thorndyke gang, while at the same time working to rid his area of Wild West vices in preparation for a new century with its civilization and settled manners. Preacher Wes Stradlin, a former gunfighter, provides a gripping subplot. Will the reverend be able to truly put his past behind him, or will some gunfighter anxious to make a name for himself try to find and put an end to him?
I found that the real treat with Alta Vista by Dan Arnold is the author’s ability to take stock Western novel scenes such as a shootout at the Gold Dust Saloon and Casino and make them seem new and thrilling for even experienced readers of Western fiction. I’ve read many Western novels, but reading Arnold’s rendition of scenes such as the gunfight and Sage’s confrontation with Homer Thorndyke were so exciting and stunning that they made me feel that I was reading this type of story for the very first time. The Christian angle also makes Alta Vista unique. Sheriff Sage knows his Bible, and he lives his life accordingly.
Readers new to Western fiction and readers who have read dozens of Western novels will get the same degree of enjoyment and satisfaction from Alta Vista. This is truly one of the best Western novels that I have ever read. The plot is gripping. I couldn't stop reading.