Lonely on the Mountain: The Sacketts, Book 17
Lonely on the Mountain reaffirms that old scuttlebutt about how when you corner one Sackett, other Sacketts are bound to come running. An urgent note from their cousin, Logan, has William Tell, Orrin, and Tyrel "pushing eleven hundred head of fat steers across the Dakota plains, headed for the gold mines in far western Canada." See, Logan Sackett had given his word to deliver cattle, only he don't have no cows. Ominously, his note's post script reads "You can expect Higginses." As you know, Higgins is the Sacketts' code word for trouble.
Sucks for Tell, Tyrel and grizzled, old Cap Roundtree, seeing as how they just got done selling cattle, and, now, they got to round up a fresh batch. Which they do, spending much of the money they'd just earned. This being an impromptu rescue of sorts, they had to round up some hands in haste, some of whom seemed to be shady characters. But desperate times call for desperate measures. The Sioux lurk in the area, except the Sackett brothers don't think it's the red man what's been stalking them.
Somewhere up ahead, Orrin, the most dapper Sackett sibling, is supposed to meet Tell and Tyrel with fresh supplies and more men. Except, come to find, Orrin runs into his own share of woe and misery. He gets distracted - but not diverted - by a lovely damsel come west seeking her brother. And, yep, this novel is told from Tell's first person narrative and from Orrin's third person narrative.
It's not the best Sackett read, unless you think long cattle drives to British Columbia are the height of excitement. It's no The Daybreakers or Sackett's Land or The Sackett Brand. The excitement comes more from having Tell, Tyrel, and Orrin - whom I feel are the most popular Sacketts - together in the same book, and throw in Logan in the mix, as well, although what we get of him amounts to just a cameo appearance at the end. The best bits are what happens after the stampede and everyone gets scattered to the winds and everyone fears that everyone else may be dead. I love that the Sacketts, every last one of 'em, have a way of keeping track of each other, a way to communicate thru sign. And, of course, when it comes to bracing their enemies, well, there's this colorful quote: "Those who lived 'round about used to say that Sacketts and shootin' went together like hog meat an' hominy."
Laying cards on the table, I admit that Tyrel is my favorite Sackett. Not one to toot his own horn, Tye, notorious as the Mora Gunfighter, quietly remarks in The Daybreakers: "Till the day I hung 'em up, I was the fastest gun alive." It cheeses me that he's relegated to side character status here, what with William Tell and Orrin snagging the leading roles. I mean, c'mon! This'll be the sixth book to showcase William Tell, not to mention the two short stories that featured him, "Booty for a Badman" and "The Courting of Griselda," and the non-Sackett novel, Dark Canyon, in which he was only a minor character. Throw Tyrel a bone, for cripes' sake!
It's 3.5 - or 4 - out of 5 stars for me. It's L'Amour not quite at his best. What really torpedoes the thing is the rushed ending. It's a case of the author failing to deliver the promised showdown. Everything gets wrapped up hastily in just four pages, as if L'Amour abruptly found something else more interesting to do. However, the stuff before is pretty darn good: the death-dealing stampede; a heap of ambushes; wolves and grizzlies and monster mosquitos; how the girl's reunion with her brother plays out; and four asskicking Sacketts for the price of one. That's a good deal.