Rowdy: Wild and Mean, Sharp and Keen by Chris Mullen – Western Wednesday Book Review – July

This is a title I fell over on Twitter while following self-isolation protocols in the spring. I haven’t had fantastic luck when trying out self-published work through Amazon/promoted on Twitter but since this was available for less than $5 I decided to take a chance on an e-book copy. I figured the worst that could happen is that I would support Amazon along with another writer without enjoying the book.

Luckily, the worst did not happen! I ended up enjoying this story. I wasn’t sure how it would go or if I wanted to continue with it at first. It’s a bit unclear to me, because of the age of the hero and kind of goofy title, if this is meant to be in the young adult category or not, and there are times when it’s self-published lack of professional oversight was noticeable to me in terms of word choice typos and confused tenses and points of view. (Although I have definitely seen worse in self-published work.) Despite the occasional editorial problem, the non-stop action drew me in and kept me going.

Told in flashback, our hero Rowdy recounts some of his many adventures, following his escape of a murderous raid on his family’s farm as a young teenager. He escapes into the temporary and temperamental mercy of the Mississippi and is rescued by a river barge captain. Further adventures include fighting river pirates, escaping Indian attack, and coming into conflict with The Big Bad rancher and his minions. (Can anyone recommend a western in which the big rancher is on the side of the angels?) There is also a wolf attack. Along the way, Rowdy collects friends, including a horse and a dog.

There are a few funny lines sprinkled into the story, which I liked.

The characterizations are a bit… cartoon-ish at times and the plot stretched my credibility a bit, but the pacing is compelling – it took me only three sittings to speed through this story. At the end, we have a shoot-out, between Rowdy and his friends and The Big Bad Rancher, although it is ultimately a little unsatisfying.

{Spoiler follows}

I found the ending of the book somewhat unsatisfying, because The Big Bad is not defeated – clearly the author intends to tell more of the conflict between Big Bad and Rowdy in the next book as this is the first in a planned series. I strongly suspect that the character will eventually get around to serving justice to those who killed his family, too.

Despite some of the complaints I had with this book, it was a fun read and I felt that I got my money’s worth.

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