This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Jerico’s Garrison Finish
Author: Max Brand
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Jim Orchard is a hard worker, a tough man and one with a lot of ability. He’s also a soft touch and whenever someone appeals to him for aid, he gives it even if they give no actual proof of the need they claim to have. Jim wants to marry Sue Hampton. Thankfully, Sue has a head on her shoulders and has set a goal for money that Jim must accumulate for their house and future children before she’ll marry him.
The book opens with Jim having made that money but on the trip back to Sue losing it all. His only chance of getting the money before the date comes due that Sue has been patiently waiting for, for years mind you, is win a horse race, riding a horse that left its owner a broken man and who nobody else has ever been able to ride.
To complicate things, a rival rancher, Gary Munn, has decided that he wants to marry Sue himself. He also has brought in an eastern racing horse to slyly win the race and become the richest man in the region.
Jim tames the horse, wins the race and gets Sue to marry him.
Well, this is the last Max Brand story I’ll be reading. Not because of anything egregiously wrong but because of the complete and utter mediocrity of it all. I’ve been reading Brand’s stories since May of 2020 and almost none of them rose above a mere competency. The only reason I’ve kept on so long with him is because he was the only western writer I had on tap and I like keeping my reading rotation fresh with a plethora of genres. Unfortunately, instead of keeping things fresh, every time I saw Brand’s name coming up I began to dread it. Like broccoli, which I won’t eat as an adult, not even if you pour cheese sauce on it. So I finished this story, thought to myself “Well, that was pretty stupid and unenjoyable” and as such I realized I was done with Brand.
While the synopsis might make Sue sound like a gold digger, she’s actually the only wise person on this story. Unfortunately, she has a very small part. When she and Jim are married, she’ll be the one making things work, even if Jim does the actual work. She’s a saint for marrying him as far as I’m concerned. Jim is one of those people I can’t stand, the irresponsible generous man. It’s not that he is “too kind”, he’s not. It’s that he thinks money can solve everyones problems and gives no thought to those depending on him to keep his money for his own needs. He’s the kind of guy who would give his last dollar to the Salvation Army bell ringer, while his kids are at home starving. Thankfully, almost losing Sue seems to have changed him slightly by the end of the book.
Gary Munn was just a total jerk. He wanted to see Jim destroyed from before the story was even started and as such he tried to destroy his reputation, both in the community and with Sue. He bet everything he owned on his horse and since it lost, his evil deeds rebounded on his head and he reaped the just rewards.
Unfortunately, none of those characters was enough to overcome Brand’s blandness. I do admit I’d like to try to find some authors to keep the western genre going, but it’ll probably take some effort on my part. I’m not a huge fan of hard work when it comes to my hobby. I might try to chase down some standalone Louis L’Amour books, but we’ll have to see.
I had no idea what a “garrison finish” is. I had to go look it up in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. It stated: “a finish in which the winner comes from behind at the end”. If I had known that when I stated the book it totally would have destroyed what tiny bit of tension there was.