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Damnation Road    by Max McCoy Amazon.com order for
Damnation Road
by Max McCoy
Order:  USA  Can
Pinnacle, 2010 (2010)
Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Jacob Gamble has a firm belief that 'Any gunfight you can walk away from is a good one.' That simplistic philosophy not only got him through the Spanish American war but it has kept in alive for fifty years. That's no mean feat if you just happen to be an outlaw by trade.

Down on his luck, Jacob decides to replenish his bank account by removing some funds from the baggage car safe of a Rock Island train, but the scheme is foiled in a bizarre manner. When he gets to the rail car holding the payroll money, Jacob finds another thief has beat him to the safe but is lying there with a bullet in his head. Caught holding the bag, so to speak, Jacob is proclaimed a hero for saving the money.

Raising the suspicions of a Pinkerton detective that all is not as it appears, Jacob is now on the run, for the detective also happens to be an old adversary who'd like nothing more than to settle old scores with the reluctant hero.

Still desperately in need of funds, Jacob hooks up with a woman who knows where a rich hoard of Confederate gold is stashed. Although his gut response is to decline her request for help - 'No disrespect, but whenever somebody talks me into something, I end up regretting it' - Jacob tells Anise Weathers he'll help.

It is then that Jacob learns where the treasure lies. It is in an Apache treasure cave somewhere along the Jornada del Muerte. Named by the conquistadores the Journey of Death, it is the roughest part of the old royal road from Mexico City to Santa Fe. Remote and desolate, this area is still guarded by the Apaches who are renowned for their inhospitality to outsiders, especially whites.

With this challenge ahead and the Pinkerton on their heels, Jacob and Anise are off on a precarious journey that is fraught with all sorts of danger. Western fans will revel in the excitement and obstacles that face this unlikely duo as they navigate the damnation road seeking vast riches and financial salvation. Of course, one misstep and not only will Jacob's initial misgivings be realized, but he'll also come face to face with his maker whoever that may be!

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