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Wednesday 23 March 2011

Hell Fire in Paradise - Review

Regular readers will know that I admire Charlie Whipple’s writing. He writes as Chuck Tyrell. This book was published in 2010. While the cover painting is well executed, it doesn’t do the story or book any favours. And what a story!

Laurel Baker’s husband is killed in a freak accident and her two sons are burned to death in the blaze that destroys their home by Paradise Creek. Grief and guilt and a deep emptiness engulf her. So when logging magnate Dunn comes by to buy her land, it’s an opportunity to sell up and move on. Despite the darkness that has entered her soul, she won’t give up. Her men are buried on this land and it’s going to stay hers. When fence constructor and widower Finn and his two boys pass through Paradise, Laurel invites them to stay to fence in her land. This new family lightens her darkness.

Dunn is plain stubborn, however, and as his dreams seem to dissipate in the bottom of a whiskey bottle, he determines to be rid of Laurel Baker once and for all.

Tyrell has deftly sewn a tragic and moral tale. Even the bad guys aren’t all bad. Dunn keeps taking reluctant steps to his doom, shoved by circumstances and his pride. As ever, the subsidiary characters seem to live – whether that’s good neighbour Seth, friendly Apache chief T’Pone, or town marshal Webber. As I’ve come to expect, the book brings alive the flavour of the food, the smell of the campfires and the sounds and sights of the West. And there are plenty of telling phrases employed; for example, ‘Time passed as if dragged by logging chains.’ Thoughtful and apt.

This is a first for the writer, a female protagonist, and he captures the character well. She’s feminine yet tough, gentle yet firm. She’s a match for Dunn and his cronies. A match that she lights to blow them to hellfire in Paradise.

Recommended, but then you’d guessed I was going to say that.


ChuckTyrell said...

Thanks, Nik. What you should do now is go back and read Guns of Ponderosa, which just came out in large print. Guns of Ponderosa happens in the same town and Hell Fire in Paradise. You meet some of the characters. Marshal Webber. Deputy Grady. Fletcher Comstock. Doc Huntly. If you've read Hell Fire, you know why Grady puts so much value on the old Dragoon pistol he carries around. And on and on. Again, thanks for the review.

Nik Morton said...

Yep, I've just ordered Guns of Ponderosa, Charlie...

Unknown said...

The reviewer could have been even more enthusistic about this excellent read. I did enjoy it.

Nik Morton said...

I could, but I'm trying to keep my blog entries a little shorter these days... Thanks for dropping by, Frank.