The Secret of El Salto

Fiction - Western
203 Pages
Reviewed on 07/12/2019
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Secret of El Salto is a compelling western novel penned by author Harvey Goodman and set in the middle of the nineteenth century. Filled with adventure, suspense, and intense thrills, the unique selling point of this western is its feisty female heroine, Estella. When her work for politician Don Souza turns unpleasant and physically uncomfortable, Estella fends the sleazy brute off and finds herself in deep trouble. As she runs for protection across the border into New Mexico, the young woman is pursued by the vicious Capitan Vicente. When she feels at her most alone, Estella takes heart in the support of an unlikely band of heroes who come together to support her and help her to her freedom.

Author Harvey Goodman really knows how to create a classic western that also has modern sensibilities, but without ruining the authenticity of the original era. In an age where chivalry and justice ride right alongside corruption and malice, we meet characters on both sides of the law with poor Estella trapped in the middle. The development is realistic and sensational, with compelling dialogue which allows you straight into the characters’ hearts and minds, and action sequences that show their true colors when it counts. Fans of classic westerns will adore the intense politics, chase scenes and derring-do of the piece, whilst newcomers to the genre are sure to grip onto the emotional arc and romantic storyline for the central characters. Overall, The Secret of El Salto is a highly engaging and highly recommended novel.

Deborah Lloyd

The beautiful land of the New Mexico territory is the setting for The Secret of El Salto, written by Harvey Goodman. Estella Colombo took a false name when she left Mexico in 1860 to forge a new life in the territory. Her work in the home of Senor Hermillo, a kind and generous man, was a welcome change until a group of threatening outlaws came to his home. Their quest to find a hidden treasure, missing for decades, led to a vicious interrogation. Estella escaped to the village of Arroyo Seco further north, and she started using her real name again. She stayed with her cousin and her husband. She formed some new relationships and was able to return to her Catholic practice. The story evolves into many harrowing moments for both Estella and her new protectors. And, she falls in love.

The historical aspects of this story depict life in the west as settlers are forging new towns. The influence of Mexico, the presence of Native Americans, the villagers’ Catholic faith and the threat of a Civil War have a large impact on the area. The author also describes the characters well, including the difficult challenges a single woman faces, to the actions of heartless, murderous outlaws. His scenes vary from ferocious shootouts to heartwarming scenes, adding a good balance to the plot. Author Harvey Goodman has written a realistic and engaging historical story in The Secret of El Salto. Anyone who wants to learn about this era and territory will certainly enjoy this book.