Last of the Gunmen
ISBN: 9781932113792, Lauric Press, an e-book in the western genre by W. Hock Hochheim.
Johann Gunther, West Point graduate who, following service in Afghanistan at the request of President Teddy Roosevelt, now is the proprietor of Remedies Detective Agency in Fort Worth, TX with his Pilipino partner, Jefe with whom he served in the Philippines. They are attending an exclusive party given by one of the wealthy individuals they have helped in the past when approached by the lovely oriental fiancé of the man’s son because she needs protection from attendant would-be kidnappers. They discover that the fiancé is not exactly what she has appeared to be while ‘taking care’ of the men. After reporting the situation to the man and his son, they receive a call from the Governor of Texas who is in need of help in solving a robbery and several murders extending from Fort Worth to Austin. The robbery took place on the highway with the wife of an ‘unusual’ police officer and her woman attendant being murdered along with a former Louisiana congressman and judge who had attempted to intervene. The judge was a friend of the Louisiana Governor who was a personal friend of the Texas Official. The situation was further complicated by the fact that the police officer whose wife had been killed was in jail accused of having murdered a wealthy entrepreneur. The story gradually unfolds as Johann and Jefe attempt to solve the crimes and discover they not only are battling a minor baseball team, members of which participate in vicious crimes, but also a crooked Texas Ranger, a sadistic ‘hit man’, a group of the country’s wealthiest industrial barons and even a couple of Johann’s former West Point associates. The characters are interesting and even include the legendary Bat Masterson and the action is relentless as Johann moves to solve the crimes in his own manner.
Discussion: The author has provided a western that is quite unique. He has presented a story in which a gunman with the attitude and attributes of the ‘old west’ must function in a changing world where modern concepts of crime and punishment are evolving and vying for acceptance. This in a world somewhat chaotic with simultaneous interspersion of newly devised automobiles, and motorcycles extending the mode and distance of travel, methods of communication similarly rapidly expanding, new methods of crime solution being recognized and even the appearance of activity by Sigmund Freud. However, the end results of this tale make the reader wonder if the book’s title, Last of the Gunmen, might have been a misnomer and whether, perhaps, there still might be a need for such an individual to ‘be around’ for a little while longer.
5* For devotees of the genre.