Jason Manning, another of our Texas writers of western fiction, may not be a household name like Larry McMurtry, but he certainly deserves to be better known among western fans. With several series and numerous stand-alone novels under his belt, his work reflects a keen knowledge of the conflicts of the western frontier in the 19th century, as well as a thorough understanding of the motivations of human nature.
HCPL owns the first two titles in the Joshua Barlow series, Apache Storm and Apache Shadow (both on CD, read by Tom Stechschulte ). Joshua Barlow is a young West Point graduate sent to the western frontier of Arizona during the Civil War. Barlow finds himself in the dangerous position of being sympathetic to the Apaches when all of his fellow soldiers and settlers only want to see them dead. To make matters worse, it looks like he is the only thing standing between peace and an all-out Apache war. And it certainly doesn't help anything when he falls head-over-heels for the daughter of Cochise, and she returns his infatuation. But what Barlow doesn't know is that Kiannatah, one of the deadly Nedtahe, who rides with the renegade Geronimo, also has his eye on her.
Manning does a fine job of revealing the complex situation of the period. He doesn't paint the Apaches out to be noble savages. He captures the brutality and the dignity of both sides of the conflict. This is a violent story and Mr. Manning does not gloss over the details. But if you like your westerns with a hard edge (and a dash of romance) I highly recommend you check this title out.