Monday, September 30, 2013

The Outcasts by Kathleen Kent

A taut, thrilling adventure story about buried treasure, a manhunt, and a woman determined to make a new life for herself in the old west.

It's the 19th century on the Gulf Coast, a time of opportunity and lawlessness. After escaping the Texas brothel where she'd been a virtual prisoner, Lucinda Carter heads for Middle Bayou to meet her lover, who has a plan to make them both rich, chasing rumors of a pirate's buried treasure.

Meanwhile Nate Cannon, a young Texas policeman with a pure heart and a strong sense of justice, is on the hunt for a ruthless killer named McGill who has claimed the lives of men, women, and even children across the frontier. Who--if anyone--will survive when their paths finally cross?

As Lucinda and Nate's stories converge, guns are drawn, debts are paid, and Kathleen Kent delivers an unforgettable portrait of a woman who will stop at nothing to make a new life for herself.

I loved this novel! The Outcasts is an engrossing novel set in the American west where no one is perfect and everyone is in search of something! The story unfolds through the points of view of Nate Cannon and Lucinda Carter.

Nate is an immediately likeable character. He leaves a young wife at home to join a cattle drive and later the Texas State Police. On his first assignment, he encounters two crusty old Texas Rangers, George Deerling and Tom Goddard. They have spent a lifetime hunting a ruthless killer named McGill who has killed women and children. Good with horses, Nate impresses the rough and tumble duo and the three ride off in search of McGill. The scenes in the book pertaining to these characters are excellently written, in fact, I would classify it as amazing, capturing the crudeness and wisdom of old age cowboys and rangers. Incredibly fabulous!

Then there is Lucinda Carter. Lucinda is running from a horrible past. She is an unloved epileptic whose father banished her to a lunatic asylum when she was a mere child. Now, she makes her living as a whore in a bothel. When she earns enough, she hopes to meet her lover and start a new life. So to hasten her destiny, she steals from her notoriously ruthless madame, who sends a killer after her. But Lucinda’s lover insists she take a job as a school teacher first. Yes, that’s correct, a whore working as a school teacher, one of the many fascinating tweeks and lilts this story takes. While there, she learns of a long-lost treasure hidden by the infamous pirate, Lafitte, many years before.

There is so much to gush about in this novel, I don’t know where to begin. The characterization is stupendous, the plot magnificent, the characters inter-connected, the creativity superb! This is the old west at its best and worst – ruthless, dangerous, wild. This story has it all, brothels, saloons, gunfights, killings, sex, and much, much more, all if it a glorious indulgence! And from start to finish, the story is peppered with clever dialogue and scenes that ring with brilliance. Each character has secrets, and slowly their secrets are revealed reaching a crescendo near the end.   

Ah, yes, the the ending – a fabulous, fascinating ending that neatly ties up all the threads of the story, connects all the characters, reveals all the secrets, and leaves you wanting more. Why? Because the author has the ability to make the characters bigger than life, real, sympathetic, credible. One of the best books I have ever read! Definitely one that I will read again and again.

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