D.M. Harrison is a bit of an anomaly–and EnglishWOMAN writing stories of the old west, an endeavor she says was fueled by family vacations touring ghost towns.
Buffalo Soldier is a classic in the mode of authors like Max Brand and Zane Grey–stock characters in formulaic situations in which forces of justice work to bring order to a chaotic frontier.
In this case Harrison updates the formula to include a black man, a former soldier, as the protagonist. He’s a soiled-dove paladin who does other folks’ dirty work and does not get the girl. the “soiled-dove” part is because he’s a bounty hunter, though he never seeks money to hunt down good people.
The situation he steps into is purely traditional. A local rancher has recently lost his pregnant wife to unknown predators, is losing cattle to rustlers. The local marshal is marking time till he reaches a pensionable age (If you can find a small western town who gave pensions to their lawmen, let me know about it.) and isn’t about to put himself at risk at the hands of some tough outlaws.
Add to the mix a couple of lighthearted prostitutes who have spent the last several years in a con-artist partnership, and you have a brew for some good entertainment.
Our hero reluctantly agrees to help stop the rustlers, even though he’s on his way to Mississippi for some family reuniting. The girls get mixed up in the situation by stealing some money from a gambler and falling afoul of the the bandits when they try to flee town.
Much of the rest is predictable, though excitingly rendered. Lightning, thunder, a stampede, a hideout in the badlands. There are some interesting atrocities drawn from the worlds of the Nazi’s and Vietnam. Romance blossoms for the women with a couple of the principals in the story, and in the end, it appears our Soldier is not going to make it back to Mississippi right away, anyhow, and for positive reasons you should discover for yourself by reading the book.
A light, quick read that will keep you amused and interested to the finish.