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Reviewsday: James Best returns with new Steve Dancy western

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"The Return: A Steve Dancy Tale," by James D. Best, is the latest installment in the Steve Dancy series, and finds our intrepid shopkeeper back on his home turf on the East Coast. Far from the rough and tumble West, the setting for the three previous books, Dancy isn’t safe from treachery or gun play. The reader can be assured "The Return" is as fast-paced and entertaining as the books leading up to Dancy’s latest adventure.

Favorite characters like Jeff Sharp and Captain McAllen make return appearances, although both are a bit out of their element in New York City, which leads to a few lightly comical scenes. The typically taciturn and assured Captain McAllen, for instance, finds the closed-in spaces and city crowds disconcerting, while Sharp gravitates toward the docks to uncover information by finding drinking partners.

In "The Return," Dancy and Sharp, along with their Leadville shop manager, Virginia Baker and local business owners, confront a protection racket in Leadville. The three, along with Captain McAllen and his Pinkertons, banish the gang leader and travel to New York City to investigate a alleged plot to sabotage Edison’s electrification project. With Dancy’s investment in Edison’s efforts, he is particularly interested in ensuring Edison’s success. And, of course, the reader shouldn’t assume that any former Dancy nemesis is completely vanquished, even Dancy’s own mother.

"The Return" is a lively, old-fashioned style Western—clever, entertaining, and full of period references to give it authenticity. Best paces his stories so well readers will find it difficult to put down. "The Return" was published in 2013 by Wheatmark.


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