Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cattle Kate: A Mystery-Jana Bommersbach

Cattle Kate: A Mystery
Jana Bommersbach
Poisoned Pen, Oct 7 2014, $24.95
ISBN 9781464203022

On July 20, 1889 in the Wyoming Territory, a mob led by her accuser affluent rancher Albert J. Bothwell ignores Ella “Cattle Kate” Watson’s claims of innocence.  They lynch the almost thirty year old homesteader for rustling cattle.  As she dangles towards certain death, Ella tries not to die, but her efforts are hopeless unless someone intervenes, which increasingly is unlikely.

As she nears death, Ella thinks back to 1877 when her parents left Ontario for Kansas with a horde of kids including her.  Almost a decade later, she came to the Wyoming Territory where single women were welcomed.  She worked hard and married postmaster Jimmy Averell and soon afterward became a homesteader who alienated the big ranchers leading to a rope around her neck.

This is a tremendous biographical fiction that provides readers with an interesting glimpse at an “outlaw” never accused of any crime in what Jana Bommersbach argues is an injustice perpetrated by the rich and powerful.  The storyline opens with a gripping first scene and never let’s go of the captivated audience whether the plot occurs during the heroine’s childhood in Canada, the teen years on the Great Plains or as an adult in The Equality State.

Harriet Klausner

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