Five Stars for a Five Star Western: Saddle Up!

Along  the Fortune Trail

By Harvey Goodman

This novel will make you want to turn on your television and watch a western and go back in time to the old west. Indians trying to get the white man. The white man trying to get the Indians. No one getting along and each one trying to make a stake of their own Along their own Fortunes Trail. This book will turn up the excitement for you and make you want to grab a horse, canteen and your gear and saddle up. But, wait until you read about the journey of one man, Sammy Winds and decide if going off on your own like he did is right for you!

Three men decide to highjack and rob a train filled with money. They planned the heist and thought that nothing would go wrong. Forcing people on this moving train to jump off or be killed and then murdering the engineer, Lonny Ballantine, Derrick and a man called Bones thought they would be home free. But, often the best-laid plans can go astray when you least expect it.

Robbing the train and making off with the money, Lonny winds up in the same town as Sammy Winds and that’s when he gets what he certainly deserves. Little does Sammy know that this chance, but tragic encounter, would not only rid the world of one criminal that no one would miss, but would make him filthy rich.

Sammy was orphaned at a young age and lucky enough to be taken in by the owners of the Twin T Ranch and taught how to herd cows, spit tobacco juice, live the ranch life and more. But, when fortune strikes and he has the chance to strike out on his own, Sammy sends caution to the wind and travels a long and hard road to Denver to claim his fortune and money for killing the man who robbed the train and who severely injured him.

Recuperating and making sure he was fit to travel, Sammy and his friend Blaine plan their trip out step by step using a map and creating a set journey to get them to Denver safely. But this would be one trip that no one would ever forget, especially Sammy and Blaine.

Starting out together they enjoy the first few days and have a slow but uneventful trip. Enjoying sleeping under the stars and discussing science and map skills these two men bond in a special way. But, what happens next will remind the reader just how dangerous travel was in the 19th century and how limited train travel was due to the lack of tracks going through many towns.

Leaving the woman he loved and the people that were closest to both of them they set out only to find that this trip might possibly be someone’s last.

The author creates suspense in every incident he describes and takes the reader on a bumpy, dangerous and exciting ride through many canyons, caves, towns and more before all is said and done.

Sammy Winds is not just a man on a quest nor is Blaine. Coming to the mouth of Coyote Canyon they spot some Indians in pursuit. Making their way down the corridor of the cave they spot an Indian and several women that were being held captive. But, Sammy and Blaine rescue these women, take care of the Indians and hopefully will return the women safely to their families or their homes. But, Blaine is seriously injured and needed medical attention, which was not available. Resourceful, intelligent and women that will make you proud and who were strong, took action and worked as a team to make sure that Blaine’s injury was attended to until he could get medical care. Three amazing women: Emily, Margaret and Claire worked, as a unit to make sure that Blaine would survive.

Sometimes you can tell by the person’s face, mannerisms or your own sixth sense that you can trust a person with your life. Sammy Winds was an amazing man who never faltered and whose main concern, was not the fortune or reward that he set out to get, but the safety of others and justice being served on the guilty.

The author describes the journey of these two men, their encounter with the Indians and the struggle that Blaine had in order to survive so vividly and expertly that you could picture each scene and event as it happened. The description of the towns, the hotels, the people that they met and the places that they passed on the way help make the old west come alive as you read  every page.
Learning about a serious painkiller, laudanum used by doctors to sedate patients during operations and to alleviate severe pain, the reader learns a lot about medicine in the 19th century and how far we have come today. Addiction is not a thing of the present and the author so aptly describes what happens when Blaine becomes too accustomed to the use of laudanum and whether he decides to stop taking it.

The author’s description of how Sammy removed the bullet from his friend’s leg was so graphic and clearly described you could feel the pain he endured and picture it in your mind. Teaching Margaret and Claire how to care for the wound and creating the poultice paste was interesting and helped the reader understand how difficult it was for Sammy to try and save his friend’s life. But, he would not give up.

How many women would have cowered and have been too afraid to stand up and take action as these three women did in order to protect each other and feel confident in taking help from a total stranger? Instinct sometimes plays an important part in a person’s survival and there are many incidents described in this book that you would have to read where instinct played an important part in the lives of all of these people.

Emily finally returned to her family. Claire, Margaret, Blaine and Sammy to Sante Fe where Claire lived and Margaret would remain with her. But, the adventure does not end there. Blaine has not decided what he will do when he is fully recovered. Will he remain with Claire or find his way to Denver?

Sammy leaves and heads for Denver and hopefully will receive the reward he so justly deserves. But, he gets bushwhacked on the way, stops at many hotels and meets some very colorful people. He even spends an evening with a local girl named Annie and spreads his warmth and kindness along the Fortune Trail as he makes his way for Denver.

What does happen when he reaches Denver? Who has does he inflict his brand of justice on? Does he get the reward and what will happen when he does? Does he return home to Jenny and to Homer and Reuben at the Twin T? Only his horse Dobe knows for sure because he was with him the entire way and he is not going to tell you the outcome of the story. Read this interesting and exciting novel to find out just how dangerous the old west was and how Sammy Winds would not let anything stop him from getting to his final destination and his fortune. A story of loyalty, friendship, and kindness and heartwarming, Along the Fortunes Trail is one of my best picks for 2010.

What will happen next will depend on whether the author brings him back for a sequel.

Fran Lewis: Reviewer and author of the Bertha Series of Books, Memories are Precious and Book Reviewer.


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