When a great-grandson inherits two ageing trunks and a stack of meticulously detailed journals penned by his great-grandfather, he sets out to fulfil his great-grandfather’s last request: to tell the story of an incredible life replete with adventure, violence, and tragedy. The great-grandfather’s name is Billy Battles–a man often trapped and overwhelmed by circumstances beyond his control. For much of his 100-year-long life Billy is a man missing and largely unknown to his descendants. His great-grandson is about to change that. As he works his way through the ageing journals and the other possessions he finds in the battered trunks he uncovers the truth about his mysterious great-grandfather–a man whose deeds and misdeeds propelled him on an extraordinary and perilous journey from the untamed American West to the inscrutable Far East, Latin America and Europe. As he flips through the pages of the handwritten journals he learns of Billy’s surprising connections to the Spanish-American War, French Indochina, and revolutions in Mexico and other Latin American countries. But most of all he learns that in finding Billy Battles he has also found a long lost and astonishing link to the past.
Review: It’s been decades since I read anything resembling a wild-west story/legend. This historical fiction is that, and so much more. I take my hat off to Yates for providing me with one of the most entertaining stories I have ever read.
Yate’s is a truly gifted story-teller. He can take a well-known historical figures like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday and develop their characters in such a way that you feel like you didn’t know them as well as you thought, and you are left with the utmost admiration for them even though this story is not actually about them.
The story is really about Billy Battles, who is but a scrivener/journalist and his unfortunate clash with the Bledsoe family/gang that sends his life into a spiralling adventure throughout the old west fraught with life threatening situations and confrontations with some of the most notorious criminals of the time.
It is a truly amazing tale. I was captivated for hours. The penmanship is excellent. I did find some repetition in places, but this can be so easily amended, I found no issues with awarding the full five stars.
I am looking forward to reading Yate’s second book in this series.