Las Vegas, New Mexico Territory in 1879, when the railroad arrives, is a boomtown for men and women of dubious virtue from all over the West. Gamblers, gunmen, crooks, shady ladies, they all drift in, and the result is explosive.In this febrile and dangerous environment, real historical characters interact with fictional ones to create an atmosphere of tension which will climax in violence and passion.John Joshua Webb is one of those who arrive in town looking for action. Josh will run into old friends from Dodge like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, and will cross paths with the likes of Jesse James and Billy the Kid.But most of all he will have to deal with the sinister éminence grise of the wide-open town, Hoodoo Brown, who first hires Josh, but then needs him gone.Josh will find love and lose it, and he will have to decide whether to leave, and live, or stay and die…
Jeff Arnold has produced a jewel of a novel. Deftly marrying historical and imagined characters and events, the author achieves what first-rate historical novels should showcase: an attractive combination of known facts and created figures and scenes.
First of all, imagine a spontaneous gathering of notable Old West characters. Arnold’s novel opens with Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, Mr. Howard (Jesse James), and Billy the Kid—all at one time and in one place: Las Vegas, New Mexico, in the late 1870s. The author brings together these headliner and other characters meeting–and sometimes conflicting—at a time when a newly arrived railroad is transforming and upsetting Las Vegas, turning it into New Mexico’s largest city, boiling over with shootings and murders, disruptive and violent actions of all kinds.
At the center of Arnold’s intriguing novel is Josh Webb, a Kansan young man trying to find himself and a new life path. His never-stop but uncertain journey links together the novel’s shifting settings in Las Vegas, Bill the Kid country, Arizona, and Mexico—as well as other scenes. Webb is portrayed as an unceasing searcher, still unable to completely satisfy himself and others in his several attempts to find meaning. Work, action, sex, and search—all are brought together in Josh’s jumbled journey.
In short, readers will be intrigued with Arnold’s inviting Old West story. It overflows with provocative characters, appealing settings, and dozens of dramatic scenes.
Gosh, my cheeks are glowing. So that just shows you, reader dear, that if you haven’t read Stay and Die yet, you’re seriously missing out!
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