Redeeming Reputation by George H. McVey was one of the best, if not the best, western novel that I have ever read. I absolutely loved the main character, David Nathaniel Ryder the Third, for he loved God, was a preacher, handsome, well educated, well mannered, quick with a gun, and was just an all around great guy. We first meet Nathan on the train to Franklin, Missouri, when two outlaws board the train and demand that everyone give them their money and valuables. Nathan gives them his money without a fight but when one of the outlaws hits a young boy with his gun, he goes into action. He manages to outwit the two outlaws and they end up bound with ropes and waiting for the Sheriff.
Nathan is stopping in Franklin to meet his grandfather and then the two of them will travel on to Redemption, New Mexico, where Nathan will become a circuit riding preacher but when Nathan reaches Franklin he receives a telegram telling him that his grandfather has died. While Nathan is checking into the hotel he sees a beautiful woman being harassed by a drunk who thinks she is a woman of the evening. Nathan steps in to rescue her and the drunk pulls his gun but immediately the drunk finds himself looking down the barrel of his own gun. Within a very short time the entire town knows about Nathan and he has gained the reputation as a fast gun slinger.
Dressed in his fancy eastern clothes, Nathan is not readily accepted in the town of Franklin but when the people in town learn that he is the grandson of David Nathaniel Ryder, better known in the west to everyone as Nugget Nate Ryder, a very successful miner, he is accepted into the community with open arms. Grace Hopewell, the woman than Nathan rescued from the drunk just happens to be in town to also meet “Uncle Nate” for he has secured a teaching job for her in Redemption, New Mexico, and was to accompany her on the trip to her job. Nathan has to stay in Franklin to meet with his grandfather’s lawyer and when he does he receives the surprise of his life when his grandfather’s will is read. After the reading of the will he is ready to leave and head west but he has acquired the nickname of Preacher and because of his skill with a gun, every outlaw around seems to want to challenge him to a gunfight. He only wants to get to Redemption and begin the job that he feels God has provided for him. Every time he tries to do God’s bidding, another gunslinger comes along and the body count keeps rising.
The author did an excellent job developing the plot, characters, dialogue, and action scenes. The characters and action were so real that I was right there on the boardwalk in the town of Franklin and experiencing all the action and feeling all the frustrations of Nathan and Grace. I appreciated the way that the author kept Nathan’s love of God and his striving to do God’s will as an important part of the book. Nathan wanted to fulfill his obligations to the town and Grace but he desperately wanted to redeem his reputation. He wonders how he can reconcile his gun slinger reputation with the reputation he desires as a man of God and as a peacemaker. The adventures of Nathan and the love between him and Grace provided me with a great deal of entertainment and quite a few laughs. As stated earlier, not only was this the best western I have ever read, it had a wonderful ending. I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.
I highly recommend this book to everyone who likes a great story set in the old West. Even if one is not particularly fond of westerns, I think you would still enjoy reading this book.
I want to thank the author, George H. McVey, for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
(reviewed 28 days after purchase)