In Thomas D. Claggett’s latest novel, West of Penance (Five Star, $16.80), Parisian gambler Clement Grantaire is accused of cheating. After killing his accuser in a duel, he learns the man is the son of an important government official. On the run, Grantaire joins the French Foreign Legion. His unit is sent to Mexico during the 1860s French invasion. There he fights valiantly and is recognized as a hero only to become a fugitive when he refuses orders to murder innocent villagers.
Grantaire repents of his way-ward life and becomes a priest serving in New Mexico Territory. When the Archbishop asks Grantaire to help raise funds for Santa Fe’s cathedral, he brings his dormant gambling skills into play, leading him smack-dab into the heart of New Mexico’s Colfax County War. Clagett writes a fast-paced historical novel hard to put down.
—Bill Markley, author of Deadwood Deadmen.