Thursday, May 7, 2015

Dance with the Devil

with JD March's
JD March is an adventurer and journalist who has lived in a series of unusual homes, including a haunted 12th century house in Cornwall in Britain and a chalet in the French Alps. But a lifelong passion for the old west means JD is happiest spending time on a proper working ranch, doing jobs that a cowboy would do and camping out on the Big Horn Mountains during fall round up. The author has spent time researching material for the book in Cimarron, New Mexico where the story is set.  
JD March is infatuated with the history of the Old West. In JD's words…” my driving passion is the Old West. I love its history and am full of admiration for the indomitable spirit and bravery of the people who set out to explore it and spent their lives in that untamed wilderness. I love its grandeur and scenery. I love the tales of the shootists and lawmen, the homesteaders and ranchers. And I love the culture of the Indians whose roots are intertwined with nature. They understood their land and were its natural custodians.” 

The first time author makes us fall in love with the Old West with the book “Dance with the Devil."  True West Magazine has chosen JD March, as 2015’s Best New Western Author and JD was a Spur Award Finalist for Best Western Traditional Novel.

“Dance with the Devil “ is the story of Johnny Fierro and the Sinclair men. The story is set in New Mexico after the Civil War. The story line departs from the usual Western genre where the hero wears a white hat and it totally honorable. Johnny is a flawed character who is manipulative, wary, proud, distrustful, dangerous and a gun for hire killer. He is not a man to cross, kills easily yet is haunted by the ghosts of the men he’s killed. He also doesn’t let his emotions show under a hard exterior. As the story develops we see a man who does have a moral code but it might not just be a normal one. Deep down Johnny has an extraordinary sense of honor and justice. The author hopes readers will see that Johnny’s life has been marred by circumstances, changing him into someone he should have never been. He was neglected and abused as a child and forced to defend himself as a youth. John Sinclair finds a gun and learns to use it. By the time he’s 20, he is a gunfighter who calls himself Johnny Fierro.

Sometimes Johnny dreams of killing his father, wealthy rancher Guthrie Sinclair. Johnny resents the fact his father had abandoned him and his mother. When Guthrie suddenly sends for Johnny, after 20 years of silence, Johnny, who knows a range war is brewing, assumes Guthrie just needs another gun. He sees his opportunity to get close to Guthrie seeking revenge.

But when Johnny arrives at the Sinclair ranch, nothing is as he expected. His father has been searching for him for years, he has a Harvard educated brother, and part of the ranch belongs to Johnny. The welcome seems real, but there is a lot Johnny does not understand. Did his mother lie to him? Why did she leave the ranch? Caught up in the violence on the range, Johnny shows his skill with a gun and, in spite of his suspicions, risks his life fighting on the Sinclair side.

An interesting feature about the story is that each character has his own unique speech pattern. Johnny is uneducated and reflects his rough upbringing doing his fair share of cussing. Guthrie, being a British aristocrat, speaks with a bit of British flavor and formality. Guy, Johnny’s Harvard educated brother, uses big words and has spent most of his years on the East Coast.

The dialogue is well written and moves the plot along at a nice pace. The language is indeed what I would imagine to be the vernacular of characters from the Wild West days. These characters include bar patrons, ranch hands and ladies of the brothel. Male characters dominate the story so pictures of the women are less developed.

It takes more than good intentions to change a hardened gunfighter into a dutiful son. As a reader you wonder if two brothers so unlike each other can ever become friends. Is it possible for a father to make up for missing most of his son’s life? What will happen if the young gunfighter does not change his direction? Luckily JD March does not disappoint readers. Book No.1 "Dance with the Devil" in the series The Devil's Own has given the reader hints and clues on what to expect in Book No. 2 “An Uneasy Alliance" due out this fall. Be sure to put JD March's books on your summer/fall reading list.

Check out JD March’s blog. It is quite creative with a western theme.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent description and review of this book. I truly loved it and was mesmerized by how well the author wove the story together and watching Johnny Fierro develop and a trouble young man who'd been through an even more troubling life kept me hooked. Good book! Thanks for sharing!