The complex relationships and baggage accompanying years of conflict between the inhabitants of Texas is expertly conveyed from the beginning. Texas Ranger Will is addressed as “Los Diablo Tejanos” (devil from Texas), a title left over from the Rangers’ cruelty during the Mexican-American War, and he faces a constant threat of attack, whether from the Mexican Army, the indigenous peoples, or the clash of Tejanos and Anglos in the unsettled climate of a newly annexed state. Some readers may find the character arcs unidimensional and slightly rushed, but Bowles compensates with a richly crafted setting.
The Nueces Strip’s arid and harsh landscape is vividly wrought, and Bowles is meticulous when it comes to the details, such as the pioneering use of the telegraph and the ever-present frontier need for gunpowder and munitions. The story’s themes—friendship, law, morality, and family—evoke the romanticism of the Wild West, but Bowles is careful to interlace them with the significant battles, bills, and legislation that shaped Texas history, and he carries off a conclusion that sets the stage for the next in the series. Historical fiction fans will be pleased with this intricate portrait of a spirited and untamed Texas.
Takeaway: Rich with history, this entry transports readers to the untamed lands of Texas.
Great for fans of: Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing, A.W. Hart’s The Ranger.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A-