RIO MATANZA by Wayne D. Dundee
Wayne D. Dundee started out writing private eye fiction, and he still does that, but lately he’s added another layer of narrative to his acumen: the Western. Rio Matanza is his second novel in the Bodie Kendrick Bounty Hunter series, and he offers up action by the bucketful in this tale.
The full-length novel opens up with Kendrick joining forces with another bounty hunter named Doc Turpin, a man who’s equally as rash and bold as Kendrick is. Together, they take down the Harrup-Klegg Gang shortly after a holdup in New Gleanus, Arizona. But that’s just the beginning of this novel because Dundee is just getting warmed up.
A lot of Western writers would content themselves with the manhunt for the bank robbers, and that would be plenty of action for most readers to settle down with. However, Dundee features that as an opening bid only and quickly moves a little more deeply into his characters.
Not only is Kendrick a manhunter, but he’s also a curious man. When Doc Turpin apparently rides out of town in the middle of the night, that’s curious. Flush with cash, not needing another job immediately, Kendrick start trailing his new partner in criminal apprehension – only the trail leads down to Mexico where a small town is fighting for its life against a corrupt Rurale officer.
Dundee peppers this Western tale with plenty of lore and smidgens of history squirreled away here and there. He’s good at tying the characters and the story to the rough-hewn and often lawless land south of the border in the late 19th century. I felt like I was there on the trail with Kendrick, and there’s plenty of fighting and gunplay to keep Western readers happy.
The characterization of the secondary players is spot on as well. Doc Turpin is enjoyable as second fiddle tough guy, and Estraleta is a great little sexy firebrand with surprises of her own, but it’s Confederate Colonel Huntsford Bradley that stands out as a truly tortured man in need of a war.
Readers of Louis L’Amour, Zane Gray, and William Johnstone will appreciate this read.