By Terrence McCauley
Pinnacle, December 2020

At long last, U.S. Marshal Aaron Mackey and Deputy Billy Sunday will see crime baron James Grant and his kill-crazy cronies stand trial for the mayhem and suffering they unleashed on the people of Dover Station. But as Montana Territory’s statehood is approaching, murdering devils like Grant can no longer be tolerated in positions of political power.

Or can they? Montana’s capital of Helena follows its own set of laws – laws that not only set Grant free, but give peacekeeping authority to a sadistic murdering gunslinger like Colonel Nathan Rigg, Mackey’s commanding officer during the war. The city’s leaders prefer keeping killers like Grant and Rigg under their thumbs.

Mackey knows there’s no controlling these bloodthirsty madmen. And if they think they’re above the law, then Mackey and Billy will just have to appoint themselves judge, jury, and executioners . . .

For those who have read the previous books this is a must read as it brings about a very violent conclusion to the plotlines that have run through those earlier novels. If you haven’t read any of the others then it might be wise to do so before reading this one, but if you’d rather just dive into The Dark Sunrise, the author does include enough background so you’ll pick up on what has gone before. 

There’s more of Mackey’s history to be discovered in these pages, some horrific actions that have helped mould him into the man he is. The author also includes other surprises such as the one Mackey faces when summoned to Judge Forester’s office for reasons unknown. There are also some powerful emotions for Mackey to have to deal with, more of which I can’t reveal here without including a major spoiler. There’s a lot of very visual destruction in this book and it also contains a high death toll. The final showdown which sees Mackey and Sunday taking on massive odds makes for gripping reading.

As I reached the end, I couldn’t help but feel this may be the last outing for Mackey. I can only hope I’m wrong and we’ll soon see him ride again.

As usual, Terrence McCauley paces his story superbly. His characters are well crafted and his action scenes are described in hard-hitting prose. As I read further and further into the story, I found myself grinning more and more as new characters were introduced. It was their names that had me smiling, as many of them will be recognizable to well-read western fans. 

With each book he writes, Terrence McCauley strengthens my belief that he is one of the best western authors writing today.