New review from Kevin Tipple:
The court of public opinion, especially when fueled by constant media attention, can be quite an obstacle. True now and certainly true long before the 24 hour news cycle in late December 1874. The local paper, Austin Statesman, is having a field day with what is being called “The Feders Killing” and Texas Ranger Josiah Wolfe is on the wrong end of the story.
For the young organization known as the Texas Rangers, as well as for Josiah Wolfe personally and professionally, the case is a disaster and a public relation nightmare. Clearly Wolfe had no choice but to kill his fellow ranger Pete Feders but that has not stopped the rising tide of anger fanned daily by the newspaper. Josiah Wolfe has made some powerfully enemies over the years and certainly one is behind the constants news stories praising the deceased Feders and trashing Wolfe. The only choice those in charge have is to get Josiah Wolfe out of Austin, his home, as fast as possible so hopefully the media interest will fade as the case is replaced by the next big scandal.
The powers that be have decided to send Wolfe undercover down to Corpus Christi. There has been an ongoing problem of cattle rustling down there with the problem getting steadily worse. Wolfe is to go undercover in the area and pass information back up the chain of command about rustling and Juan Cortina. Juan Cortina may or may not be involved in the cattle rustling but there is no question he is causing trouble and trying to reclaim Texas for Mexico. Getting Wolfe out of town might work for those in charge but it comes at a very high cost for Wolfe.
Wolfe is leaving his young son behind in the hands of a woman he does trust for what could easily be six months or longer while he acts as a spy. Having lost his wife to sickness as well as his daughters, the idea of being away from his son is almost a fate worse than death. At the same time he is being told he must go undercover as some sort of spy which goes against the very nature of his being. The result is additional angst for Wolfe who is already plenty stressed about some other issues. But, the bosses give him no choice and he heads south towards Corpus Christi heavy in heart for many reasons.
The problem is Wolfe has a reputation that precedes him far and wide. Something that should have made those in charge think twice before sending him. As he quickly learns in Corpus Christi, it is nearly impossible to go undercover when it goes against your nature and everyone seems to know who you are anyway. Makes it even more difficult when you aren’t really sure who you can trust.
The fourth book in a series that began with The Rattlesnake Season finds Wolfe torn between two romantic interests, his family and his duty, and the ghosts of the past. This is a deeply complex character rooted in family and obligation to others who is forced by circumstances to often act in ways contrary to his very nature. This results in both internal conflict as he contemplates various issues and external conflict as he often has to respond to others in times of extreme stress.
Full of rich details and nuance, author Larry D. Sweazy once again shows why he is an award winning author. Featuring multiple storylines, complex characters, and a winding trail across southern Texas, this 294 page novel is a real treat. A complex and detailed Western on all levels, Josiah Wolfe is a hero that resonates with the reader in The Cougar’s Prey: A Josiah Wolfe, Texas Ranger Novel.
The Cougar’s Prey: A Josiah Wolfe, Texas Ranger Novel
Larry D. Sweazy
Berkley Books (penguin Group)
Paperback (also available in e-book, large print)