Friday 12 August 2022




A Spur Award-winning Author

Tom Prine figured that a stint as deputy in a backwash town like Claybank would give him a nice rest. Until, in the space of just a few days, arson, kidnapping and murder turn Claybank into a dangerous place Prine no longer recognizes. A lot of old secrets are being revealed and at their core is a single nagging question - is anybody in town who they pretend to be? Prine doesn't have long to find the answer . . .

The past 18 months or so I’ve been working my way through some of the late Ed Gorman’s body of work. Showdown (previously published as Gun Truth) was my first time with one of his Western novels.

I liked it without wanting to immediately cast everything else aside just to concentrate on more of the same from him. 

We have a somewhat naive young deputy as the lead character. Deputy Tom Prine is a bit discontented with life. He has a girl and a job but is ambitious for more…. more money, a big house, a better woman, and some respect around town. His head has been turned by a rich lady, Cassie Neville who lives with cock of the walk, her brother, Mr Bigshot himself Richard Neville. Neville has the massive house, the influence, the contacts and the money. He’s also a bit of a tool. He talks down to people and he’s full of his own self-importance.

Prine gets wind of a plot to kidnap Cassie and thinks as he has identified the culprit prior to the snatch, and most likely where she will be held. He can let it happen, act the hero, snag the inevitable reward on offer from her brother and impress the lady. All goes well until rescue time and he realises Cassie has instigated the whole thing to escape the clutches of her domineering brother.   

Things go pear-shaped thereafter. Cassie is killed by her two kidnappers. Her brother is furious and together with Prine the pair go on a manhunt, Prine dragging his guilty conscience with him. Things aren’t quite what they seem though.

I had a good time with the book. The main character was good company, if not a little bit green. When he concentrated on tracking the two killers he was capable and efficient. There’s some friction between Neville and him, as they argue over the fate of Cassie’s murderers. There are a few twists, turns and bumps along the way to decent outcome.

I liked the time spent in the 1880s. I liked the setting of the small towns, the countryside, the bars, the hotels and the railways. I liked crossing paths with unscrupulous villains both dedicated outlaws as well as corrupt lawmen on the make.     

Overall 4 stars from 5
Previously enjoyed by Gorman....

Read - (listened to) June, 2022
Published - 2003
Page count - 283 (5 hrs 51 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible


  1. It sounds as though this one has a solid sense of the Western atmosphere, Col. And I like the premise, especially as Pine discovers that some people aren't what they seem. Perfect, perhaps no, but it sounds engaging.

    1. Margot much more to like than dislike here.

  2. I hadn't realized before your review that Showdown was previously titled Gun Truth. I read it in paperback as Gun Truth some fifteen years ago and while I don't remember it well, I do remember I enjoyed it.

    1. I do wonder why the title was changed, Ben. Nevermind it was an enjoyable book.