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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Cactus Jumpers by Andrew Burch is an excellent meld of the crime and Western genres, with a setting in the quiet town of Emerald, California. In this small town, there is a power tussle between two influential men: the head of the Rancher’s Association, Moss Williams, and businessman Skip Traeger. Everything in the town changes when a young girl is murdered and the body found at the local watering hole by Marshal Mason Boydette and the sons of Emmett, a gunslinger turned local preacher. The marshal is determined to get to the bottom of the crime, but it isn’t easy as people start taking sides. Will Emmet pick up his gun again to help the marshal? Will the adventurous nomads, Trace, Crystal, and Jade, take sides with him? It is a time of reckoning for the people of Emerald. Everyone has to make a choice, and in a world where people can easily get swayed over where their interests lie, can the truth triumph?
Andrew Burch’s debut novel is a tantalizing read, well crafted and filled with interesting backstory and plot lines. The characters are well explored and readers can relate to them easily. I enjoyed the way Emmet is developed more than the others, a man who grew up like the wind, living life the way he wanted. But now he is a preacher, bound by a set of principles, and readers will enjoy the transformation that takes place in this complex character. The world building is exceptional and readers will enjoy the relationships in this town and understand what shapes the dynamics. The writing is beautiful and polished, filled with great descriptions and streams of consciousness which allow readers to get into the minds of the characters and to get a deeper understanding of the conflict. Cactus Jumpers is not a roller-coaster, but it is engaging in an intoxicating kind of way. It’s a good, well-plotted story in deft hands.