Title: The Showdown at Yellowstone
Author: Larry Richardson & Tom Richardson
Publisher: Putnam & Smith
Genre: Western Fiction
No. of Pages: 274
ISBN 13: 978-1-939986-17-7
Reviewed by Gary McCary for the Association for Mormon Letters
A friendship of two men who love the west, a hazardous trek up the San Juan Heights with a future President of the United States, lawmen and outlaws, a Wild West traveling show, a female trick pony rider, a perfect romance, a tragic death, a conspiracy to assassinate Teddy Roosevelt, frontier trains, and plenty of booze–these are some of the key elements of Larry & Tom Richardson’s latest western saga, “The Showdown at Yellowstone.” The Richardson brothers gave us a good taste of their love of the west with last year’s “The Big Horn,” and their new novel is an even more compelling slice of historical fiction.
It’s the kind of book that makes you want to go to Google and see just how much of their tale actually happened in real life. The main characters are named C.J. Mason and Thorn Hickum, friends brought together by their mutual love of Montana, their expertise with a gun, and their need to maintain law and order in a small western town. Thorn Hickum had fought with Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders as they stormed San Juan Hill in Cuba. A few years after military service he joins Sheriff C.J. Mason as his deputy in the city of Coulson, Montana. The Richardson’s have a knack for describing the landscape of Montana with vivid images of prairies and sunsets that make one want to travel and explore the west.
Mason and Hickum’s adventures ebb and flow, with saloon dust-ups and outlaw brawls. Hickum eventually falls in love with a young woman named Sadie, providing our story with a nice feminine touch that is badly needed. There’s no need to give away the plots and subplots as the story nears its crescendo, but suffice it to say that President Roosevelt, mentioned in the early pages, appears as a key figure in the final quarter of the book. His now famous twenty-five state fourteen thousand mile speaking tour during his first administration in 1903 is the keystone event of the story. Hickum and Mason are on the President’s security detail. The end of the tour was highlighted by the President’s dedication of what was to be called the “Roosevelt Arch,” a rusticated triumphal arch located at the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park in Gardiner, Montana. The drama that unfolds as the presidential train nears its final destination is one that everyone will enjoy reading.
The Richardson brothers are romantics of a sort, creating dialogue that might well have been spoken during those heady days of the “Wild West” at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. This type of western genre is pleasant to the senses, evoking an era, and a place, AND a pace, far removed from instant media access and 140-bit sound bites. It was a time when a person could gaze out on a landscape, see a hawk floating effortlessly in the sky, and smell a fresh breeze. It’s a time most of us would like to experience–and you can by reading “The Showdown at Yellowstone.”