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"Cattle Country and Back Trail" is part of Erwin A. Thompson's heartwarming series set in Wagon Wheel County, a fictional location similar to Colorado/Southern Wyoming. "Cattle Country" begins just after the Civil War, and revolves around an escalating range war involving a greedy rancher and the banker who backs him, and the hardworking, motherless Ashburn family who struggle to keep land and cattle. "Back Trail" happens six years later, when a solo rider from Texas passes through Wagon Wheel County in hopes of outriding his dangerous, dark past. But when he sees the young son of his employer tricked into a gunfight with a professional gunman, he breaks the promise he made to himself to never use his guns again. His mettle is tested and a romance that began as real-life chess grows into a match with his true mate.
Cattle Country and Back Trail: Two Tales from Thompson Western Series
Reviewed by for Reader Views (3/07)
In these two books, award winning poet and author, Erwin A. Thompson, introduces the "Thompson Western Series.” His books paint a picture of a lost era. His are stories of struggle and triumph. He writes of an age when courage, loss, and love produce character and core values. The hardships of homesteading are made more difficult in an environment that demands retribution.
The two books are set in Wagon Wheel County. A time period of six years time elapsed between the books. Barroom brawls, the constant threat of bloody range wars, greed, and the struggle for power, cause men of integrity to show the strength of their character, against the terrorism of the lawless bully and the spinelessness of the weak. Thompson weaves a complex, but subtle romantic, heart warming, theme throughout the development of the plot.
Each chapter reads like an episode reminiscent of the TV series, Gun Smoke or Bonanza. The stories are character driven with intricate plot twists depicting life in a distinct period of American history. Thompson is sensitive to physical suffering, emotional pain, and reveals an understanding of human nature as he develops his characters. He writes of the emotions of fear, anger, and of the confused feelings of suspicion and mistrust. I found myself immersed in empathy, admiration, or contempt, looking for positive change in the key characters who might counter the avarice and selfishness of the greedy and the spitefulness of spineless.
These are great stories of the strength of the family and importance of the community.