RIDE THE DESPERATE TRAIL is number two in a trilogy (following THE ROAD TO A HANGING), and continues the saga of Free Anderson and Parks Scott, whose friendship began when they were in the Union Army. Free Anderson
is a black ex-slave, and Parks is a white mustanger. Free has married Clara and the two of them are establishing a Texas homestead.
Free and Parks are away from home on a rescue mission when they happen on a situation that results in a rogue outlaw getting killed. His sidekick makes a bee-line to the outlaw's brother and they embark on a ride for revenge to Free's homestead. The two outlaws kidnap Free's wife and kill his mother, who also lives at the ranch. The action is non-stop and the suspense is in high gear as Free and Parks follow the trail left by the outlaws. The pregnant Clara, putting up a fierce fight against the men, is taken through the Sand Hills of Texas to the Guadalupe Mountains. A band of Apaches are also after the outlaws, and after a fierce battle, manage to kill both men. Clara is then taken prisoner by the Indians, one of whom plans to make her his slave. They travel to an Apache winter camp in Big Bend country, with Free and Parks in hot pursuit.
Mike Kearby manages to give us great insight into the minds of the heroes, the outlaws, and the Apaches in this exciting adventure of the Old West that is laced with accurate historical detail and high emotions. The characters are compelling, and the multi-level plot keeps the action moving quickly right up to the satisfying climax.
Mr. Kearby includes a glossary in the back of the book with word, phrase, and name meanings in English slang, Comanche, Spanish, and Apache languages. There is also a page of discussion questions to help gain better understanding of the history and theme of the story. This series is sure to be a hit with teens...it's easy to read and exciting.
Reviewed by: Grandma Bev