By Alan Sorensen
"Dakota Kill" is not a children's book. Nor does its author, former Stone Child College English teacher Peter Brandvold, suggest that his latest novel is anything other than an adult western.
Brandvold, whose previous two books, "Once a Marshal" and "Blood Mountain," has made a name for himself in the western fiction genre since leaving Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation about four years ago.
"Dakota Kill" is the tale of an adventurer returned to the prairie after years of fighting Apaches, the Mexican Army, pirates on the high seas, and the hoity-toity in San Francisco eateries.
For those who have a taste for westerns whetted by years of Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour, Brandvold's books are the work of a master chef.
Brandvold, who taught at the tribal college in the Bear Paw Mountains for five years, has a working understanding of ranch and farm life. His descriptions of equipment and tack are apt and his action is pretty much nonstop.
"Dakota Kill" protagonist Mark Talbot comes home by train after seven years away to find that his older brother has been dead for about six of those years. Before he can reboard the train and head back out into the world, Talbot is drawn into a running conflict between a large land baron with Eastern backing and the smaller spreads in western Dakota territory. The action all takes place somewhere east of Wibaux.
One hired gun and several beautiful women are just some of the characters who keep Talbot busy on the bench until the fiery end.
Brandvold is a fine story teller and has come up with another can't-put-it-down book for the western lover.
Brandvold's first two books were published in paperback by Berkeley Press. His latest is a 288-page hardcover published by Forge. It will sell for $23.95 when it is released on Jan. 10.
Brandvold, who now lives in Underwood, Minn. but maintains his ties with his friends in northcentral Montana, said he is working on his fourth novel.