Many thanks to Diane Donovan of Midwest Book Review for this awesome write-up! (Check out the review on their website here. You'll have to scroll a bit!)
Original Thirteen Publications
Review by Diane Donovan for Midwest Book Review.
Jenny Goodnight tells of a tired missionary woman who becomes drawn into a town conflict between fiery newspaper reporter Uncle Matthew and the powerful founding family of the town of Legacy.
It doesn't help her case, when murder results, that she's an assertive woman known for packing a pistol and confronting violence, herself. When she becomes a suspect in the murder, Jenny is drawn into the investigation to save herself from hanging. Like her investigative uncle, she discovers even more layers to the town's politics and underlying connections, the more she pulls at the strings of possibilities and strange associations.
Killarney Traynor creates an involving, clever, assertive protagonist in the character of Jenny Goodnight. The plot follows her special form of frontier justice and confrontation beyond the confines of the usual Western female protagonist.
Jenny's uncle wants to reject her inclination to rescue him even as she uncovers truths about his relationship with Underwood and the secret that is being held over his head. More importantly, Jenny herself finds that her own future and capacity to survive and live in this town depends on her ability to unravel a very strange and deadly truth indeed.
From a missing letter to another act of violence that hits too close to home, Jenny perseveres against all odds, drawing readers into a Western scenario in which her strengths spill over into other lives to create new possibilities not just for Jenny, but those around her.
Another big plus to the story is the atmospheric descriptions that create strong images of countryside and purposes: "I followed him down the narrow path. The sun was descending, shafts of light gilding the rugged dark pines and bringing out the burnt orange of the landscape. We rode maybe half a mile under the arbor, then the trees gave way and the valley opened up before us. A low, squat building, weather-beaten and in need of work, was situated on the open plain, a barn just behind it. Beyond these, a creek wended its way through a corridor of earth-clutching trees. There were more trees staked out in an irregular pattern on the far side of the house. Cattle lowed from somewhere, and Danaher's nag whinnied in the paddock. It was a sweet piece of land, capable of supporting a small family, and I wondered if that would have suited the lovely Helen, had she not caught the eye of an Evans."
Readers who like blends of Western and mystery themes, powered by an exceptionally astute female protagonist, will relish the intrigue, atmosphere, and confrontational changes in Jenny Goodnight, which is highly recommended reading for Western novel fans looking for more than the usual male-centric focus.