By: Harvey Goodman
Publisher: Mill City Press
Publication Date: January 2010
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 30, 2010
Saddle up your horse, pack your saddlebags and get ready to ride down the dusty trail with author Harvey Goodman. Along the Fortune Trail takes the reader along for a good, old-fashioned romp through the old West, replete with cowboys, Indians, and ladies in distress.
Along the Fortune Trail opens with three very unsavory villains who are about to rob a train. The robbery is successful; the gang steals a heap of money, although Lonny, the cruelest of the group, shoots the train's engineer.
We next meet Sammy Winds, an orphan who grew up at the Twin T. ranch, working long days branding cattle, working broncs, and shyly pursuing the beautiful Jenny Simpson. One day while in the local bar, Sammy is confronted by a rather drunk Lonny, who is looking for a fight. And a fight he gets! Sammy emerges as the victor but must spend a significant amount of time recuperating.
Word of Sammy's killing of Lonny spreads fast and soon the railroad's owner offers the young cowboy a $10,000 reward. Once Sammy is better, he embarks on a long, treacherous trip to Denver, where his reward awaits.
Sammy is accompanied on the trip by his good friend Blaine. The days are long and hard and there is plenty of adventure along the way. Early in the journey, the pair stumble upon a cave where three young women are being kept captive by a renegade group of Apaches. Will Sammy and Blaine be able to rescue the women? Stay tuned - it's just the beginning of their adventure through the old West.
The protagonist in Along the Fortune Trail, Sammy Winds, is a very likable character, a young man any mother would be happy to have her daughter marry. In fact, sometimes he's just too darn nice and the reader may question if cowboys were ever as respectful and good-minded as Sammy. Fortunately, it turns out that Sammy isn't quite perfect - he has a few minor faults including a talent for spitting the juices of his chewing tobacco with frightening accuracy.
The author does a very good job of recreating the wild West from days gone by. The landscape, daily activities of both townspeople and ranch hands, as well as the relationship between Sammy and his horse Dobe are all accurately portrayed. There are a few areas where the action slows to a trickle, such as during Sammy's convalescence after his fight with Lonny, but these episodes are fairly brief. The bulk of the story is full of good, old-fashioned shoot-um-up action. A few of the characters' stories are left hanging at the end (what happens to Blaine, Margaret and Claire?), which I hope means there's a sequel in the making. I am looking forward to the further adventures of Sammy as he makes his way back home.
Quill says: If you love westerns, pick up a copy of Along the Fortune Trail and ride along with Sammy - you'll be transported back to the Wild West.