Monday, 1 June 2009


I hold my hands up and admit that I have never read a Jack Giles book.
Until the other day that is.
When it's revision time it's not that easy to take out time to read but by the end of half-term I thought that I should take a break.
'Poseidon Smith:Vengeance Is Mine' was Jack Giles first book published in 1984 by Robert Hale.
The first few chapters follows three violent men who are released from prison after a ten year prison sentence. I got to know these three so well that I disliked them. All they want to do is kill the man who ran off with the proceeds of a robbery and left them to rot in the prison.
The book moves from them to the quiet town of Ruskin, Texas and the happy event that is taking place. The preacher's sister, Andromeda, is about to get engaged to the local rancher - except that the rancher is not all that he makes out to be.
The Sunday School children are to be given a treat and are being shown how a big ranch works.
All arranged by the preacher, Poseidon Smith, who manages to bring people around to doing things that he suggests by making them think that they thought of the idea in the first place.
And Poseidon Smith talks like a preacher and, I think, is what attracted me to this character.
The mood of the book changes and it disturbed me.
The outlaws arrive and a shoot out comes about as they try to escape and caught in the middle are the Sunday School children. There are casualties on all sides and that included the children. I didn't expect that and I don't know if anyone has done that before.
Stung by the tragedy Poseidon Smith struggles with his faith and blames himself. Armed with an ancient pepper pot pistol he hunts the killers down but he does not know until the end just who he is going to face.
The book reads like a film and I could 'see' it all happening.
I asked the author why he included the scene that disturbed me.
"Reality. Back at the time when when Texas was fighting to be free of Mexican rule there was an incident in Missouri. The Mormons had populated an area called Haun's Mill and most people resented the presence of these 'Chosen People' so they took matters into their own hands. They didn't care who they killed in that massacre - men, women and children were fair game. In 'Poseidon Smith' the attitude of the outlaws is 'if it moves kill it' and, in real life, as you see on the news children are the casualties of war.
I don't know what was in my mind when I wrote the book but I would guess that I was thinking something like that at the time. Couple that with this thought - what would have broken Poseidon Smith's faith?"
Despite it all I found this book to be, well, things stick in my mind. That has to be a good thing.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Dominic, for bringing this up. It's a shame that some great stories like this are out of print. If Hale won't reprint, then maybe Express Westerns should think about it?