Marvin L. Brown
A review by Mark Lewis
"For days the blue silhouette of
the Rocky Mountains had loomed before him. Now, at last, John Marvin
Brown could feel the cool crisp air and enjoy the smell of tallgreen
pines. The early signs of Indian Summer surrounded him. It was
comforting to sit back in the saddle and behold some of God's handiwork.
Having been a lawman, he had a reputation, though it was not well known
here in the Colorado Territory.
"As John made his way up the trail an old habit emerged. He
began to whistle. It made little difference if it were a ballad, hymn or lively
dance tune, the performance was flawless. For the moment the
hills echoed the song simply called 'Cindy'. South and east of here
people knew him by many names, 'John', J. M. Brown', even 'Legs'.
But one of the most recognized was, 'Whistler'. Though some thought
the nickname came from the habit carried out as he rode, walked, or
worked, they were badly mistaken.
ran his fingers through his beard, scratching. Normally, the facial
hair as cropped short, but weeks of neglect had left it become long and
shaggy. Tan skin and lines across his forehead and around his deep
dark brown eyes revealed years of hard frontier life. Even so,
some would consider him ruggedly handsome. He towered above the
average man. Between the soles of his boots and the crown of his hat
were six feet and five inches of rock-hard determination and muscles.
trail now crossed a well traveled road. Whistler turned his horse
north toward the town of Battle Rock where he hoped many years of
searching would soon come to an end. He should know one way or the
other in the next few hours.
that very moment in a town a tall, quite pretty, thirty-one year old woman
paid for the goods being loaded into her wagon. Two cowhands, Big
Jim and Jeremiah, secured the load, then waited for the boss's wife to
join them. As she approached the wagon, Big Jim took Katherine by
the arm and helped her up to the seat. 'Thank you, Jim.'
the reins in hand, Katherine released the brake. 'I want to stop by the
banking house, then we'll be on our way home.'"
open's Marvin L. Brown's superb first novel, Empty Holster.
book is "Golden Age" meets Hopalong Cassidy. There is a
distinct knowledge of who is a good guy and who is a bad guy, yet
Whistler's flaws come out occasionally. He is a veteran of the War
Between the States and a former lawman and a former cattle drover, yet
that is all you are shown of his background. Whistler himself,
doesn't recall most of the war.
scene that follows the above opening, Whistler is ambushed. All he
sees of his assailants is a large white horse. His horse and guns
are stolen and he is left for dead. He is found by his long lost
sister and taken in for recovery.
the description of his renewing his relationship with his sister and
becoming acquainted with her husband and two children, Temperance, whom he
calls his angel, and Little John, is artfully done, there could have been
a bit more detail of his recuperation.
really stands out. It is a shoot out between, an aptly named, Scabbed
Nose John and his gang, and Whistler, in the River Falls saloon.
Where the thugs shoot, and kill, one of their own mistakenly.
Another scene is when Whistler and Sam are on the outlaws' trail, and they
have a conversation as they are lying in their bedrolls.
"Whistler rolled to his side to face
Sam, 'Back when I was drivin' cattle, most of the hands believed in
ghosts. They could sit around the campfire and tell some pretty tall
stories. And I'll have to admit, sometimes at night, thins get a little
spooky, but nothing ever convinced me it was a ghost. I guess if
they're out there, one of 'em would have to tap me on the shoulder and say
howdy, before I'd believe it.'
if one of 'em tapped me on the shoulder, I'd lite out of there so quick,
I... I never would he... hear 'im say anything.' Sam shivered at the
thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am hoping that he will put out
another book soon. I'd like one about Whistler's past, but then
again... Maybe the mystery is better.