THE JAILER’S SON by S. A. Ferkey

Jailer's sonLest you think that all I read are mysteries, and only Faye Kellerman mysteries at that,  here’s a Western.  Not my normal read, but a girl’s gotta branch out a bit, you know?

This is a whole lotta Western and leetle bit paranormal.  It is the story of a 15 year old boy, traveling around the western part of the country in the period after the Civil War.

Here’s the official blurb about the plot.  A little longer than your average elevator pitch, but pithy enough.  Pith is good.  I like pith:

Maxwell Beck is no average boy. Thanks to his Pa’s insistence, he’s a sharpshooter, sleight of hand artist, acrobat, and cardsharp. These are handy, yet highly unusual skills for the son of a traveling salesman. Even so, Max thinks he’s living a normal life, until one fateful day when he inadvertently sets a chain of monumental events in motion.

Just days after his Ma dies, Max accidentally shoots his Pa. It’s then that Max learns a secret about his past that will change his life forever and maybe even chase him to the ends of the earth.

Max’s Pa might be dying, but he’s insistent that they reach the Old West town of Deadwood before he leaves this earth. Max does as his pa asks only to find himself face to face with an uncle he never knew existed. Uncle Chase “Turtle” Beck, the sheriff of Deadwood, is not pleased to see his dying “no good” brother or his brother’s son. Turtle’s displeasure seems to linger even after Max’s Pa dies.

However, as Max rides out of Deadwood, his uncle intercepts him and offers him a job at his ranch. It isn’t clear what Turtle’s intentions are — Max saved him from being shot in the back by two outlaw brothers shortly after riding into Deadwood, or maybe it’s because he’s kin — but Max decides to give ranch life a try. His uncle has only one request: that Max keeps his special skills set to himself.

It’s an easy adjustment for Max. He enjoys the company of the other cowboys, and meets Patience, a sassy-mouthed blonde who he believes is destined to be his wife. It turns out this happy time in Max’s life is only the quiet before the storm.

When an outlaw gang savagely attacks Turtle and threatens to strip Max of all he holds dear, he is forced to break his promise to his uncle. As Max sets out to stop the evil that has the power to destroy all he loves, he tries to put the events his birth mother predicted for him out of his mind — even as they come true, one by one.

The ensuing battle of good against evil gives birth to a legend for the ages: the legend of The Jailer’s Son.

Ferkey likes history, and the historical West and it shows in this warm (yet kind of bloody) tale of a young boy, thrust on his own at age 15.  How many kids do you know who can do anything to survive other than give their thumbs a workout on their smartphones?   It is told in first person by the boy, a likeable, capable kid;  a kid we all wish was our own.  Well, excepting for the shooting of his dad part.  bwahahaha.  It’s one of those stories where you can’t stop reading.   So, OK, you purists among us.  Maybe it isn’t high literature.  But you know me.  I am all about the story.  And this is a great one.  Just the beginning of a series, and now there are three more to dig into:  Where There’s A Will There’s A Way, Exile, and No Patience,  all under The Jailer’s Son umbrella.

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