Book Title: The Man Who Shot John Wilkes Booth – A Weird Western Novel
Authors: Kevin G. Summers
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Available On: Amazon as an eBook, a paperback and as an audiobook
Indie Athenaeum Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
In 1865, Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. Eventually, Boston Corbett killed Booth, was himself caught and then placed in a lunatic asylum. In 1888, Joshua Webb is the editor of The Paradise Ledger, a newspaper in Colorado that also publishes articles focusing on the unexplained and the paranormal, giving it a tabloid reputation.
He receives letters from Corbett, promising to reveal the real truth about the conspiracy behind the Lincoln assassination. Unable to resist, Corbett goes to the asylum in Kansas to go talk to him and check it out. What he found is someone who appears unlikely to be of sound mind to tell him anything useful. Until the shooting begins and Webb goes on the adventure of his life!
In the meantime, Webb’s fifteen-year-old daughter Abby is being watched by the widow McLarty, a close friend (and maybe more) of Webb’s who is working with him at The Paradise Ledger. But when a handsome stranger visits them at the house, he seems innocuous enough. But how does this connect to what’s going on with Webb in Kansas?
The story moves along at a swift pace, drawing these two threads together as it goes, with Webb out of his element and his daughter in danger, but from who exactly? The mystery that Corbett presents deepens and the answers are bold, unexpected and complex, drawing us in and demanding we find out the truth, just like Webb. But what price is Webb willing to pay to expose this truth?
By the time the final showdown occurs, it is fraught with tension between all parties, now completely unmasked by Corbett. Masterfully bringing the entire story together in a powerful finale, the final few chapters are filled with gunplay, frontier justice, and jaw-dropping revelations that make complete sense, yet are completely unpredictable.
But the author not only gives us a great story, but he also writes engrossing characters. Especially Webb and McLarty, two people darkened by sorrow at losing their spouses. You can viscerally feel their pain as it informs their decisions and guides their actions, for better or for worse. And Corbett is truly a piece of (twisted) work as well.
Character development is something solidly and sturdily built over the course of this story, as they are real people with fully-fleshed out histories. You feel as if you’ve walked a mile in their shoes and have known them for their entire life in only a few short, vivid paragraphs. You also experience the emotional burdens they carry and you inhale the dust on the streets as this western is brought fully to life.
This thrilling and engaging story, combined with these remarkable characters, make for a fantastic read that is difficult to put down. You don’t have to be a western fan, or a weird western fan, to appreciate and enjoy this original and imaginative novel. If you love history, conspiracies and a well-written story filled with surprises, then this novel is for you. And this review is not printed in some tabloid rag either, so you know it’s just the honest-to-goodness truth.
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Previous Indie Athenaeum book reviews about stories by Kevin G. Summers include “Legendarium – The Wrath of Bob“, co-written with Michael Bunker and “It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane!: A Superhero Anthology“.