A Story of the Old West

Fiction - Western
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 11/15/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Gunslingers: A Story of the Old West is a work of western-style fiction with plenty of action and intrigue, and was penned by author John Layne. Written as a clean read for all types of audience, this multi-genre tale set in the old west contains plenty of family drama and romance, as well as the action and adventure one would expect from the genre. The focus is on Joel Thornton and his daughter Elizabeth, who experience an attack from an old fugitive on their ranch in Texas. Elizabeth heeds the call to find her father’s former partner, US Deputy Marshal Ben Chance, but this leads her to a mysterious gunslinger and here the story really heats up.

Author John Layne has both a great sense of what makes a classic nostalgic western, and what makes great reading in a modern-day adventure novel. What results is a really well-rounded tale with multiple plotlines at play, emotional drama arcs but also mysteries and missing persons, old grudges and new dangers. The writing style is atmospheric yet concise, getting us to the action fast when called for but still painting those historic scenes we know from cinema and television. The dialogue is also a triumph, harkening back to the old ways of speech but not so much that readers can’t engage with and understand the characters and their well-formed personal storylines. Overall, Gunslingers: A Story of the Old West delivers everything it promises and more. A highly recommended read for western fans and newbies alike.

Christian Sia

Gunslingers: A Story of the Old West by John Layne presents one of the goriest battles in what has come to be known as No Man's Land. The simple version of the plot is something like this: Joel Thornton is a retired US deputy marshal who lives on a ranch and in a town that is named after him. When his daughter, Elizabeth, returns home after being away for seven years, a fugitive attacks the ranch, hurting Thornton badly and robbing him of his cattle. He sends Elizabeth to find his old friend, former US Deputy Marshal Ben Chance. Thus begins an adventure that will involve romance and a battle for revenge that is legendary.

There is music in the prose, the language brimming with rich imagery, and sounds, sights, and feelings that inundate the reader's senses. A great story isn't just about the characters in it or what happens to these characters, but also about how it is told, and this author does it like no other. I was pulled in from the start by the power of the prose. Gunslingers: A Story of the Old West is set in a land that knows no laws, where the strong survive; the wild, wild west of the gunslingers. The story has so many surprises like when Elizabeth's stagecoach is attacked and she gains an ally in the process. John Layne writes beautifully and captivates the hearts of readers through crisp and strong prose. The novel is action-packed, fast-paced, and skillfully balanced, with characters that are well developed and humor that makes it irresistible.

Romuald Dzemo

Gunslingers: A Story of the Old West by John Layne has everything readers look for in a western. Retired US Deputy Marshal Joel Thornton is living quietly in his ranch and in a town that bears his name when a fugitive attacks and hurts him out revenge and desire to have his cattle. He asks his daughter, Elizabeth, who has just arrived after a long period of absence, to go find his old buddy Ben Chance, another US Deputy Marshal. Elizabeth’s adventure is fraught with danger, including an attack on her stagecoach, and a shadowy gunslinger who saves her and becomes part of her journey to find Marshall Chance. Will Marshall Chance and other gunslingers locate the rascal who shot Elizabeth’s father and exact revenge? The novel features a dramatic gun battle that captures the free and dangerous spirit of the Old West.

John Layne knows how to tell a story and the reader is left in no doubt that the author understands the geography in which the story takes place, and knows his way around guns. I felt as though I was taking part in the gun battles described in this novel. The story explores strong themes of family, adventure, love, and friendship. The story is rich in imagery and the easy-to-understand, highly descriptive prose sets the story apart and makes it a page-turner. Gunslingers: A Story of the Old West is filled with action and is fast-paced. It is cinematic and readers will easily imagine the scenes and characters as they turn the pages. This is one of the best books I have read about the Old West, with characters that are memorable and action that is nonstop.