Cover Image: Montana Territory

Montana Territory

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When it becomes painfully obvious that the Army does not appreciate his experience, or his attitude, John Hawk parts company and heads home.  But his unemployment is cut short when he is tasked to find a missing wagon party.  When found, the wagon party's total destruction by outlaws will leave John Hawk to track and avenge the marauders.
Charles G West has developed a hero in John Hawk.  He's rough around the edges and very sure of his skills so tends to speak his mind when he should not.  John lives in a west where the strong take care of the weak and no crime goes unpunished.  An excellent example of what a great western should be.
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John Hawk is an independent man who knows his job of scouting for the Army backwards and forwards but when his personality clashes with Lieutenant Meade who is in charge of the scouts at Fort Ellis the result is Hawk being fired. Well, that's okay because he can go to his cabin and get it all snugged in ready for winter with the supplies and food he will need. That stage of events doesn't last long when Lieutenant Matthew Conner comes to the cabin to convince Hawk to go with him on a search for a wagon train that has disappeared. A church group was on their way to Helena to settle there and build a church. Hawk knows he will be irritating Lieutenant Meade if he takes this scouting job but somebody needs to find where that group went so Hawk agrees.

This is the third book in this series featuring John Hawk. I enjoyed this story of the old West and spent long pauses from reading to try to visualize just how intimidating that vast territory must have been for town people who took the chance to travel through it to, hopefully, make their dreams come true. Charles West doesn't spend much time on descriptions of the weather or even the physical landscape but I could picture the difficulties Hawk was having with no trouble. Hawk is a very likeable character if you are fond of upright, honest, independent people who want to do what's right. If they can help somebody along the way, well that's just fine. Even Hawk's horse, Rascal, has dimension as he is written by Mr. West and I enjoyed the interactions between man and horse.

In these days of isolation due to the coronavirus it's great to know there is a genre of books I can count on to give me pleasure and let me hold reality at bay for a time. This was an enjoyable reading experience and I am looking forward to reading more about John Hawk and Rascal. Two chapters from Massacre at Crow Creek Crossing: A Cole Bonner Western are included at the end of this book. Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books, Pinnacle for an e-galley of this novel.
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In this third of Charles West's John Hawk Westerns series, Montana Territory (Pinnacle 2020), John Hawk is fired from his army scouting job over a disagreement with a petty small minded officer about tracking. The officer dislikes Hawk anyway so not much chance he'd ever agree with him. Maybe because Hawk was raised by Indians, maybe something else. Whatever the reason, Hawk doesn’t mind too much because it gives him time to fix his cabin up before winter sets in, do things he’s been meaning to do but hasn't had time. He's one of the Army's best trackers so is always working. 'Being fired' doesn't last long. A different army officer, this one a friend, begs Hawk to return when the fort commander's son disappears with a group of Quakers travelling to set up a new church. That happened weeks ago but Hawk takes on the job anyway, as a personal favor. He quickly finds that most of the group was slaughtered, maybe by Indians, and their money stolen. A small group escaped and points Hawk the right direction. When tracking the murderers takes too long, the Army pulls the plug but Hawk isn't willing to. If he does, who will bring justice to these well-meaning peaceful folk? 

A fast-moving plot, good character development, an appealing theme, all wrapped around an excellent main character--John Hawk. Overall, another great Western you will enjoy.
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Following Army Scout, John Hawk on his adventure described in the book “Montana Territory” by Charles West, is an interesting adventure.  The story looks at a man who is tough and determined to see that right prevails sometimes at great risk.  This quest for good is accomplished in a stepwise fashion even with risk to himself.  He is a white man who had spent time with the Native Americans in the area and learned much about honor from them as well as how to track and survive in the wilderness.  He often scouts for the US Army not to help kill the native peoples but to help them survive and not be killed without trying to make peaceful contact and learning to live in the current world environment. He seems to understand the hardships that all those living in Montana face.  He also knows that there are the criminals who try to take the easy way and steal from others often killing indiscriminately.

This story is primarily about Hawk leading others by example and tracking down scoundrels who have killed just to take money from other settlers.  The adventures takes him across the plains and into the mountains where there are close calls and some tender moments as well. Montana forms a great backdrop for the expansive story.  Hawk and his well-trained horse become the central focus of the story with supporting parts played by good guys from Army troops to shopkeepers.  Of course the robbers have their adherents and those willing to look the other way to get money.  This is a classic good versus evil.  Hawk is one of the good guys but he also has temptations to take the easy way but remembers his teachings. The story comes to a climax in Helena, the new territorial capital.

The book is a quick read and is hard to put down.  If you like a traditional western story, then this is a definite must read.  The Hawk character is the epitome of the US Western spirit of self-determination and honesty.
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