Just finished Dead Reckoning by Mike Blakely and thought I should tell what I think about it before it fades out of my memory and becomes one of those books that I know I've read but can't recall anything about. Well, there I go thinking again.
Dee Hassard, con man, thief, killer, etc., is being hauled off to jail by Frank Moncrief, but Hassard retrieves a hidden gun at a rest point and shoots Frank and the story begins. Hassard takes the place of the right Reverend Moncrief (Frank's brother) by trickery. A group of religious zealots have hired Reverend Moncrief to take them over the mountains but Hassard intercedes and poses as the guide the group hired. They are searching for the Cross on the Mountain to establish their church, and now the real guide (Moncrief) is after Hassard for killing his brother and stealing his job.
And the plot thickens with Clarence Philbrick saving a lost wife from a fate worse than death and telling her to join the group of relligious nuts, who will take care of her, but Philbrick decides he can't let her go and becomes the main obstacle to Hassard's leadership. Philbrick is on his way to New Mexico with a pile of gold to buy up some land, including the little town of Guajalote, where a nun has a vision that their salvation rests at the Cross of the Mountain. She and a young lad head for the Mountain Cross not knowing about the other nuts, uh-oh, religious people, also looking for it. Oh yes, the husband of the wife is also looking for her, but he is mean and abusive, and doesn't survive the discovery of her and Philbrick and the church people and Mr. Hassard. Poor lost soul!
They all gather at a point where the Mountain Cross is visible, Hassard and Philbrick, the right Reverend Moncrief, the nun and the young lad, and all the members of the Church of the Weeping Virgin for the grand finale. Who survives this clash? You must pick up a copy and see what happens.
I had never heard of Mr. Blakely until I bought his novel, but I will be reading more of his stories because he writes a very interesting and exciting story with humor and a finger on the pulse of the West. He also wrote Comanche Dawn, Too Long at the Dance, Forever Texas, and others that I'll be looking forward to reading. His website is: mikeblakely.com.