Elmer Kelton's the Unlikely Lawman
by Kelton, Steve; Kelton, Elmer

Deputized to help bring a fugitive-and murderous-horsehand to justice, Hewey Calloway, never known for his skill with a pistol, prays that he and a retired Texas Ranger will be enough to put an end to his dastardly deeds.

STEVE KELTON is retired from the San Angelo-based Livestock Weekly, where he spent 42 years, the last 25 as editor. A West Texas native, he is a son of the late Western novelist and livestock journalist Elmer Kelton. During his youth, Steve spent as much time as possible on the McElroy Ranch in West Texas's Crane and Upton counties. Managed by his grandfather, Buck Kelton, the McElroy was where Elmer and his brothers grew up. Aside from journalism, Steve is the author of the nonfiction books, Renderbrook, A Century Under The Spade Brand, a history of the Renderbrook Spade ranch in West Texas; and Grassroots Legacy, a commissioned history of the Texas Farm Bureau's first 50 years. He lives in San Angelo with his wife.

ELMER KELTON (1926-2009) was the seven-time Spur Award-winning author of more than forty novels, including the Texas Rangers series, the Hewey Calloway series, and the Buckalew Family series. He was also the recipient of the Owen Wister Lifetime Achievement award. In addition to his novels, Kelton worked as an agricultural journalist for forty-two years, and served in the infantry in World War II.

*Starred Review* Western novelist and livestock journalist Elmer Kelton clearly instilled a love for storytelling in his son, Steve. Though both have now passed on, the younger Kelton also worked as a journalist and wrote several nonfiction books (Renderbrook, 2000) before turning to fiction. The western genre is lucky he did. Finally breaking away from his abusive boss, ranch hand Hewey Calloway agrees to move a herd of horses from Texas to Colorado for a neighboring land owner. Calloway's reckless subordinate, Billy Joe Bradley, grows out of control as the herd reaches its destination. Eventually, Bradley's actions turn ruthless and deadly. With the financial assistance of a wealthy, principled rancher and his staff, Calloway teams up with retired Texas Ranger Hanley Baker to bring Bradley to justice. The plot is ambitious but never meanders; though Calloway and Baker's pursuit takes them all over Colorado, including testifying in multiple trials, each distinct journey feels precisely charted and allows for Calloway's contemplative growth. The characters resonate with traditional genre values but don't fall into stereotype. Baker, in particular, is introspective and compassionate. Steve Kelton's author's note shows an obvious affection for both his rancher grandfather and his father, and The Unlikely Lawman honors his family's legacy. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

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