AUTHOR: Murray Pura
PUBLISHER: High Noon Press
A town of lost souls the desert wind was about to blow away. A church ready to close its doors. A preacher down on his luck and down on his faith. Five widows with nowhere to turn and no one to care. A ruthless cattle baron who wanted the town and its people gone, no matter what it took, so he could use the land for his vast herds. If God wanted to work a miracle anywhere, New Mexico looked like a good place to start.
The year is 1866 in New Mexico, which is not yet a state and still a wild, nearly lawless territory. Three of the widows meet to support one another in grief, and when they meet the newcomers, an entire family of Methodist preachers, sparks fly.
This western tale is populated by larger-than-life heroes and villains, as a western novel should be. I had to give up on keeping the characters straight and simply enjoyed the wild ride. And wild it is. Passions and violence flare, guns blast, and evil seems to triumph. For a time.
I was given a free copy of this book by the author, Murray Pura, who has written a vivid story of the wild beginnings of New Mexico. The body count is high, and that bothers me, but I imagine it is realistic for that time period. The Painted Sky earned four stars from me.