SMART, SIX GUN FUN: BRETT COGBURN'S RED RUCKUS
Red Ruckus is the latest book from Brett Cogburn in his Clyde Morgan series. The former New York copper transplanted to the wild west is brought back to his usual job of cleaning up a dirty town. Cogburn takes the familiar set up and fills it in with fresh colors and a rough hewn feel.
The book opens with Morgan working as a deputy marshal in a Texas town, dealing with a farmer whose hogs are running about. After a rough confrontation and Morgan dealing out a list of fines that would make Judge Roy Bean proud, he's brought in by his former boss for the MK&T Railroad and a representative from the newly formed Secret Service. A judge who Morgan has a bad history with has taken over the rail town of Eufaula with his corrupt court. He will be reinstated as a railway detective with the powers of a U.S. marshal and catch the judge's marshals in illegal activity to care of his army.
On the way to Eufaula, Morgan comes across a half Seminole black man left to hang, barely alive. The man, Cumsey Bowlegs, claims to be innocent, but Morgan takes him into custody to figure out what's going on. Since Cumsey mentioned the law being part of the hanging party, there may be a way for his mission to be accomplished.
When he rides into the town, he has a confrontation with the marshals, led by the unscrupulous Lot Ingram who has dark ambitions of his own. To get the lay of land, he reunites with his friend Red Molly, an ex prostitute who runs the barbershop that serves alcohol and well as haircuts in the officially dry town. Lot is pressuring her to turn it into a brothel. She wants Morgan to take out Lot by any means. To her dismay, Morgan informs her it has to be legal.
With some poking around and a few gunfights, Morgan closes in. Unfortunately, his key to pinning something on Marshal Lot, Cumsey, escapes jail. Also, Molly hires the town preacher, a former gunfighter to take care of Lot. Morgan needs to find Cumsey before Lot to avoid an open war in the town.
Cogburn brings his distinct voice to the story. The great grandson of Rooster Cogburn, he was obviously raised on True Grit utilizing characters that are both forthright and complex with a tactile authenticity. Humor also plays a large part in the writing. All of this plays into the character of Cumsey Bowlegs. He is a colorful rogue operating on a thieves instincts and out of an outcasts situation. He understands and often explains his position with society and the law. As much as you can't trust him, he feels the same about you,
I've read a couple books by Brett Cogburn, but this was the first in the Clyde Morgan series. Red Ruckus makes me want to back to those earlier ones. They have a fun, hard, authentic, lived in feel with the writer dedicated to giving his reader something entertaining on each page.