When preparing for the Read-a-thon last June, I picked up a scattered selection of books to fit any mood, including a few westerns. I paid no real attention to what I was getting, which means that I fell victim to Sturgeon's law and got some lousy books. I'm sorry to say that I classify David Thompson's Vengeance among these.
In fairness, this is book #43 in the Wilderness series, so I'm clearly starting in the middle; maybe the characters spent so much time displaying common sense and humanity and competence in the first forty two books that Thompson felt readers would be bored if he inflicted any more of that on them. Instead they display a variety of incompetence and petulance. Lou goes for a walk and almost gets lynched, then complains when the man who rescued her doubts her ability to single-handedly defeat the evil pair who wander about murdering and plotting vengeance willy-nilly. Zach suffers from an author who alternates praising him to the sky with forcing him into endless defeats and foolish mistakes. It's too bad television wasn't invented yet, because he could have learned a lot from watching Knight Rider in battle. Or even watching Spritle and Chim Chim in action.
I did have to admire the concept, though. Zach is a half-breed (the term is used repeatedly by everyone, including the author) who resents the contempt showered on him by whites, although his (white) wife Lou can't understand why he's so stressed about this. He has just miraculously escaped hanging when a jury failed to convict him of the murder of two white brothers; society is furious at this gross miscarriage of justice, since clearly the half-breed deserved to die. But, this is all part of the VENGEANCE of the dead men's sister, who bribed the jury to acquit so she could have the pleasure of torturing the man herself. To cover her tracks, she immediately has everyone she talks to murdered, sometimes in public restaurants, using her ginormous indentured servant/lover for the dirty work. Luckily the law can find no evidence; stacks of corpses piling up in the houses she rents being too circumstantial to act upon. Zach apparently believes his gun has a range of about ten inches, so he spends the book having his weapons slapped away by the bad guy. I just wish I could just give these guys the mobile number of a Sackett.