This was a rollicking story -- part old-fashioned western, part tall tale, part whodunit. Aimed at middle-grade readers, it's clean as a whistle.
Billy Bob Clyde, who prefers to be called just Clyde, heads west when he gets a garbled message from his father, who went west years earlier. Clyde falls in with a bunch of bounty hunters, crosses a desert with no one to help him but his horse, and finally lands in the almost-deserted town of Cactus Poke. There he meets a motley collection of people, all of whom harbor secrets. After learning the truth about the girl he admires, Clyde sets about saving the town from notorious outlaws.
This story had several twists I didn't see coming, was just far-fetched enough to qualify as a tall tale, and has a satisfying ended. I very much enjoyed it. I especially appreciated all the humor and the way all the characters could see the funny side of various situations. And I loved all the Shakespeare references!
Full disclosure: I received a free advance copy from the author. I did not agree to provide a positive review in return. All opinions here are my own.
Particularly Good Bits:
"Thanks," I said. "I'd tip my hat to you, but it's evidence now."
No sheriff in his right mind would send a thirteen-year-old alone after a seasoned outlaw. But Sheriff Hodges wasn't in his right mind.
"Yeah, but it was Hamlet's line," Sadie said, "and he never said anything clearly."
Manners don't matter where bacon is concerned, anyway.
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG for western violence and scenes of peril.