Whiskey When We’re Dry by John Larison

A fiction pick by Jean-Louis

whiskey (Penguin Random House, 2018)

For years now I have been hounding our library patrons to see if any of them have taken up writing a new Western novel. We have a dedicated following for Westerns and not enough of them are being written. The waiting is over–we have a new writer!

John Larison has written a Western novel and it is a doozy. In the spring of 1885 young Jessilyn Harney finds herself orphaned and at her wits end as to how to get by in the world. She has her trusted pony Ingrid, the guns from her dead Pa, and she knows the general direction in which her brother has run off. Seeking to re-unite with the only kin she has left, Jessilyn takes off in search of her brother Noah who has now become the territory’s most famous outlaw.

Larison’s style is crisp and clear, the moral code of the novel is unwavering, and the action moves along as smooth as a seasoned buckskin pony. Our heroine has forged all the necessary skills she needs — she can cook and clean, ride a horse, and she can shoot the eyes out of snake at a 1000 paces. Jessilyn learns to take care of herself and with a little subterfuge and passel of luck, she passes herself off as a man and finds employment as a sharpshooter.

The novels takes us along for a heckuva ride and you will not be disappointed. Jessilyn’s adventures bring her into contact with Civil War deserters, land hungry Mormons, an avaricious Governor, thirsty gunslingers, and religious zealots. Hold on to your horses this one wild ride!

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