The Silver City Bank Robbery
by Beverly Smith
Page Publishing

"The sheriff was a fair and just lawman who was respected by most of the townsfolk. Later today, though, he would be sorely tested."

Stories of the Old West have been around since before it was old. Now, author Beverly Smith has added to a long legacy of Western lore with her tale of a memorable incident in a tough frontier town. The best of Western authors, writers such as Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour, knew their heroes and heroines had to seem larger than life to match the sprawling, often harsh environments their tales were set within. The author of this yarn takes that lesson to heart as she recreates a burgeoning mining town overflowing with rough-hewn men and hard-working women who prove more than a match for the tumultuous times.

Smith peoples her story with characters etched in people's memories from fiction, film, and television. For example, there's George, a good man who grows his stature as the frontier grows around him. He takes his family from Ohio on an arduous trek westward. Tragedy accosts him, yet he finds a way to not only survive but prosper with both a ranch and a lumber business in Nevada. Then there's Drago, a sinister and mysterious outlaw who's as bad as bad gets. His partner, Buck, is short on intellect but long on a loyalty that will eventually prove his undoing. Jack, the owner of the biggest gambling house in Silver City, has a reputation forged in the fiercest of frontier hamlets like Dodge City, Kansas, and Tombstone, Arizona. However, even he takes notice when Johnny Diamond makes his way up from Texas to join the collection of misfits in Silver City.

Males aren't the only memorable characters in Smith's tale. Millie's Café is run by an indomitable lady of the same name who hosts the town's denizens be they good or bad. Her waitress and friend, Joella, is a green-eyed beauty who overcame a childhood that saw her frequently passed from one person and one place to another. She silently puts up with banker Sims's consistent ogling, appreciates Sheriff Clark's timely interventions, and does her best to keep her crush on George from becoming too obvious.

Smith keeps her narrative short and focused on the events leading up to an attempted robbery that will end with bullets, blood, and death. Her prose is admirably straightforward and frequently more expository than illustrative. Her dialogue is appropriate for the place and time and laconic when it needs to be. She avoids any forays into the vulgarity or profanity that were probably commonplace for the era yet are not at all necessary in this telling. Violence, while present, is kept to a minimum and occurs credibly when used.

This is a story that can easily be consumed in one reading. For people of a certain age, it will bring back memories of times and tales past. For younger folk, it can be a snapshot of what many of their mothers, fathers, granddads, and grandmothers were raised on. The Old West has always been more mythic than real, but as fabled film director John Ford is said to have uttered, "When you have to choose between history and legend, print the legend."

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