The Lawman's Surrender
It took me awhile to drum up some interest in this book. Just as I was ready to dismiss this book altogether, it got interesting. Unfortunately, it didn’t stay that way.
The basic plot of The Lawman’s Surrender is interesting enough, but the main characters are a little shallow. Susannah Calhoun met U.S. Marshal Jedidiah Brown once, shared a kiss with him, and then he disappeared. A year later, she finds herself in prison for the murder of her former employer, who got fresh with her – and got himself slapped silly for it, but not murdered. Still, she’s the only suspect, and it’s Jed’s job to escort her to Denver to face what will most likely be a hanging judge, considering the victim was the nephew of a powerful Senator. At first, he believes she could be guilty, but then his opinion changes for the better, although this seems to be largely based on his lust for her, as opposed to any sort of evidence.
The interesting part comes when Jed, in an attempt to leave a false trail for the victim’s vengeful brother, starts telling people along the way that Susannah is The Black Widow of Barton Falls, who has murdered three Husbands. A battered wife kidnaps her from the local holding cell to try to convince her to kill her husband too. Unfortunately, this incident is resolved far too quickly, and the plot quickly returns to the will-they-won’t-they between the ho-hum pair.
All too often, these characters adapt historically correct thoughts and manner only when it suits the plot. Susannah has no sense of propriety – although we’re told she came from a perfectly normal home (and we’re never told why she left it) – and has no problems or even second thoughts about climbing into bed with a man she knows will never marry her. Naturally, despite these attitudes, she’s still a virgin, despite being a beauty that turns the head of any man in her immediate vicinity.
There is much bellyaching about how men only see Susannah’s beauty, and not the person she really is. Jed always answers with supposedly insightful comments on the personality he sees that no one else does. Which is fine, except he starts spouting these sentiments long before he’s spent more than a few minutes in her company, and certainly before she’s shown him – or the reader – any sort of evidence of all the strength and honor and such that he is forever going on about. It’s not that she’s a bad person, it’s just that it’s hard to accept that he can tell what a good, strong, intelligent person she is when neither he nor we have seen it yet.
This book had just enough interesting bits to leave me wanting more, and just enough dross to make me disinclined to pick up another by Debra Mullins. Since it’s my first book by her, I couldn’t say if it’s the norm for her, or just one of those times when mediocre books happen to good writers. If you’re looking for a good read, skip it. If you just want a read that doesn’t downright suck, this could be your book.