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The Reckoning by Mike Torreano

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  • ​Ike McAlister returns home to Kansas after the Civil War, his soul bruised and empty. Worse, his parents have been killed by Quantrill’s raiders who are still on the loose. No stranger to death and destruction, he vows to run the killers down. A clue leads him to the high plains of Colorado, but when his sister, Sue, disappears from there, his world quickly spins out of control. In the midst of this turmoil, a feisty landlady sparks an attraction, the only good thing in Ike’s life.
     
    Racing against time, he must make a deadly choice. If he continues to pursue the killers, Sue will likely never be found. But if he veers off to find his sister, the killers’ trail will go cold.
     
    Which track to follow? Will the love of family triumph in his broken heart, or will it be the passionate hate of revenge?​

    Rating: Sweet
    Page Count: 336
    Word Count: 87310
    978-1-5092-0929-3 Paperback
    978-1-5092-0930-9 Digital

    Excerpt

    Southeastern Kansas, Spring 1868

    Ike McAlister spurred hard for the two renegades galloping dead ahead. Early spring mud flew from his horse’s hooves as he closed on his prey. He felt the familiar sense of cold fury come over him. His parents’ killers had eluded him for far too long. Ike slapped his reins left and right on Ally’s neck, something he’d rarely ever done, even during the war. He’d catch these murderers like he’d caught the others, or die trying.

    The nearest outlaw turned in his saddle, and the setting sun glimmered off the fugitive’s pistol. A shot rang out, and a bullet whistled past Ike’s cheek. Ike yanked Ally’s reins and dove off the horse as she slowed. Tumbling on the ground, he grabbed for his gun. The men ahead also pulled up.

    Nobody had ever outrun Ally.

    There was no proper cover for miles on the windswept Kansas mesa. Last year’s knee-high brown grasses served as woefully inadequate concealment for both hunter and hunted.

    Ike’s brother, Rob, fired his Winchester from behind Ike, then leapt off his horse as well and landed next to his older brother.

    One of the fugitives appeared as a dark form backlit against the lowering afternoon sun as he pulled his horse down in front of him. Ike steadied his gun hand with his other arm and drew a bead on him with his long-barreled Colt .44. His first shot missed but came close enough to motivate the outlaw to drop toward the ground, but before the killer disappeared from sight, Ike’s rapid-fire second shot hit him square in the chest. The sharp report of gunfire echoed over the gently rolling hills.

    “Damn!” the fallen outlaw howled to his partner hidden nearby. “They got me, Johnny.” Wind carried the wounded man’s plaintive voice over the still landscape.

    Moving grasses gave away the other killer’s location as he crawled toward his stricken companion. Rob fired twice into the center of the shifting grass, then knelt down, rifle at the ready. The grasses resumed a gentler movement with the wind.

    Ike kept his breathing steady and stayed as still as possible. Rob took short breaths beside him.

    One of the bandits pleaded, “Johnny, you okay? Johnny, I’m hurt bad. Johnny!” Then silence.

    Ike waited. He held his pistol well out in front of him, pointed in the direction of the men’s last sounds. After a crouching walk, he found them both motionless in the grass, ten feet apart. The one Ike had shot lay curled up, eyes fixed on nothing, a still hand on his chest. As Ike turned to the outlaw Rob hit, the killer swung his six shooter up and fired. The bullet buried itself deep in Ike’s thigh and knocked him to the ground. Before Ike could return fire, Rob pumped three shots into the murderer. Smoke trailed lazily from his rifle barrel, and a breezy quiet reclaimed the land.

    Ike struggled to his feet with a hand to his leg and limped to where the shooter lay dead. Imaginary artillery shells boomed all around him, and a cold sweat traveled down his back. Too close a call, but there had been too many close calls in his life. The odds were increasing that one of these would put him down for good. His breathing slowed, and the shells went silent.

    Rob shouted from behind, “He’s dead, ain’t he, Ike?”

    Ike answered without looking back at his brother. “Well, if not breathin’ qualifies as dead, then he’s dead.”

Reviews

Grade 
09/28/2016

A mystery wrapped in a detective story inside a Western

Mike Torreano has written a rip-roaring read, a mystery, a detective story, a tale of vengeance and justice, set in the Colorado mountains post-Civil War. Torreano's is a tale of one determined man in search of his missing sister, with dastardly villains and a cast of quirky characters and dusted with humor throughout. A very good, enjoyable novel that will keep you guessing right to the end.

    Grade 
    09/21/2016

    The Reckoning

    Mike Torreano transports readers to the old west in THE RECKONING. The characters spring to life through hard-boiled dialogue and non-stop action in a fast moving story. Torreano is a fine writer whose intimate understanding of the west shines though in a gritty tale that was difficult to put down. I don’t normally read Westerns. However, the blend of mystery with Western became addicting and I look forward to Torreano’s next novel. I definitely recommend THE RECKONING.
    John Andrews, MD

      Grade 
      09/18/2016

      A really fun read!

      I don't typically read westerns. However, I truly enjoyed The Reckoning. Torreano writes a story of self-discovery and redemption filled with humor and action. The flowing dialogue and colorful cast of supporting characters round out the story making it a really fun read. Hopefully Torreano will give us more stories about Ike McAlister and his crew.

        Grade 
        09/07/2016

        The Reckoning

        As a history buff, Mike Torreano deftly paints a picture of life in the old west. His attention to detail from the local boarding house and hat shop to life on the trail gives a realistic portrayal of the west in the 1800's. Torreano develops his characters well to the point where you either empathize with them or look forward to their demise. His military background is evident in the sounds of civil war that continue to haunt Ike. The interwoven storylines of The Reckoning make you want to know what's around the next page and to the next book from this author. 9/5/16 Louise Carlson

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          The Reckoning

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