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Reviewed by Alice DiNizo for Readers' Favorite
It's the old West, Texas specifically, in those years right after the Civil War and notorious gunfighter Rondo Landon, or Joe Lenders as he often calls himself, sits in a jail cell in Midway, Texas. His cousin, Texas lawman Lt. Yancy Landon, and Judge Parker listen to Rondo tell of his years as an outlaw and a killer. Rondo was born in eastern Louisiana in 1851 and his father Noley served with the Confederacy. Reconstructionists claim Noley Landon's farm for back taxes and Noley, Uncle Elliot and Rondo head out West to Texas where Noley has been promised a job working on a ranch. They buy a covered wagon and some horses and meet up with a wagon train headed West. Something in Rondo does not like the man called Mr. Jones who is in charge of the last wagon in this wagon train. Noley and Elliot are killed by Comancheros and their covered wagon is looted. All Rondo has left is a small amount of money he recovers from a hiding place in the wagon and a six-shooter his father took from a dead Union soldier. Grieving and enraged, Rondo mounts his horse and takes off, coming upon a man sleeping peacefully on his bedroll. What role will this man, Ben Kinrich, play in Rondo's future and who exactly is Ben Kinrich?
"Confessions of a Gunfighter" by Tell Cotten is a delightfully well-written novel of Texas and the Western territories in those years right after the Civil War. The plot-line moves believably with "come alive" dialogue between characters who are multi-faceted and very believable. Main characters Rondo, Ben Kinrich and Lee Mattingly, as well as all the major and minor players develop as human beings, authentic in their not always perfect ways. "Confession of a Gunfighter" should be on reading lists everywhere as it is a story that must not be missed. There are books written that are so good that no word on any page can be skipped. "Confessions of a Gunfighter" is one of those special works.