The Sons of Philo Gaines by Michael R. Ritt. Published by Gale, A Cengage Company.  Available November 2020.

Many years ago, my father shared his Louis L ’Amour and Zane Gray books with me, instilling a love and fond relationship with Westerns. I can honestly say he would have loved reading The Sons of Philo Gaines.

I received an Advance Readers Copy from Krista Rolfzen Soukup of Blue Cottage Agency, asking me to read and write a review. Of all the books I’ve read and discussed with fellow writers and readers, it never ceases to amaze me the differences of opinion we take away regarding the same book. That’s why I think it is important to give an author credit when credit is due. And this book takes its place amongst one of my best Western reads.

The Scholar, The Gunman, and The Gambler. Sons and brothers brought together in a small Texas town to revenge a family member’s murder by carrying out justice, Tennessee Style.

In the small town of Mustang Flats in post-Civil War Texas, evil lurks in the form of a Confederate Officer who deserted near the end of the war. Changing his name to keep ahead of the law, he attempts to take over a town by placing fear in all its residents and committing unconscionable acts. One way or another, the Major, aka Amos Tolliver, will have his way. Or will he? In this fast-paced story, he is about to encounter three brothers, the sons of Philo Gaines, a famous figure in history in his own right.

Whether nefarious or respected, each character depicted by Ritt has their own secrets to hide and stories to tell. As an esteemed author and member of Western Fictioneers and Western Writers of America, Mr. Ritt expertly portrays each brother’s individual tale, then skillfully weaves them together in this, his first novel, The Sons of Philo Gaines. A great storyteller, Ritt will have you walking the streets of Mustang Flats and riding the trails with each of the characters portrayed within his novel. You will be captivated by the twists and turns that will have you turning the page and wanting more.

I commend Mr. Ritt on writing this exciting novel containing adventure, heroes, and intrigue like the good ole’ Westerns of the past. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. It kept me reading into the wee hours of the night until I finished. I enjoyed the characters and storyline so much so that I didn’t want the book to end. This is definitely a story needing a sequel to keep The Sons of Philo Gaines alive, and a must-read whether you’re a loyal fan of Westerns or not.

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