Marshall Texas Ranger: The Case of the Hidden Pasts
Found beside a burnt out wagon, ten miles from the last battle of the civil war, in only his long-johns, with two Griswold pistols in his hands, he has no clue who he is. All he can do is try and find his past, his name, even his purpose in life.
With the help of some new friends and the ability to use deductive reasoning and techniques, much like the fictional Sherlock Holmes, the self-named Marshall Little sets out to find his past. During an encounter with Nugget Nate Ryder, Marshall saves the life of Texas Governor Andrew Hamilton, who then appoints him a captain of the Texas Rangers, in charge of a special company of rangers to solve unsolvable crimes. His first assignment: find out who wants the Governor dead.
Can Marshall find the criminal mastermind behind the attempted assignation of the Governor? Will he find out who he is, and why he was found where he was? Or is the past to remain hidden?
With the help of a colorful cast of characters, who meet and travel along with Marshall, Texas Ranger, in his first assignment: The Case of the Hidden Pasts.
Release date: 17th February 2017
The Guru's Review:
I stumbled upon this novel from seeing the cover preview by the author on a Facebook group we both belong to. When he posted the description I was interested. He sent me a review copy. I have read only one other Christian western novel so this was another reason to read another. Very different to the previous one. This is the first novel of McVey I have read and I am now a fan. This is one fun novel. McVey describes it as
Marshall is just my attempt at a fun, little pure western, no romance or second calling, just a guy doing what he's good at...
I could not agree more! I reckon McVey has a winner with this story line. I pray he writes more about Marshall and expands more of this premise. There seems to be unlimited scope for further storylines.
It does not take long to get hooked into the storyline. Marshall is introduced immediately in the mysterious circumstances that set the pace and flow for the rest of the novel. Apart from this, two things further hook your interest and keep you reading. The first, his superior deductive reasoning and techniques, very much like Sherlock Holmes. The second, the spiritual gift and mission revealed from God through Eva Little. I found these last two elements very intriguing. Makes it very speculative and that I love.
Once these three elements were established by the halfway mark, I found myself supportive and rooting for Marshall. I love the sense of mystery behind Marshall's past and the situation that first introduces him. Then seeing how this gift and mission from God plays out in Marshall's new life is enthralling and captivating.
Sometimes a character sticks out more than others. Sometimes this is due to them being based on a real person while others are solely the author's vivid imagination. Could even be a combination of both. It no surprise that Eva Little is memorable as she is based on McVey's biggest fan; a dear lady who is 99 yrs old! I find this very heart warming!
I have not read any of the Sherlock Holmes novels (only the movie/TV versions). If McVey has based the description of Marshall's deductive reasoning and techniques on Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes, then he has translated this effectively into Marshall's character. However, this in no way shape or form, comes across a clone of Holmes. Marshall is a very different than Holmes. I found the various descriptions/examples of Marshall's deductive reasoning a joy to read and keeps you reading more. I had similar reactions as the characters who witnessed these ("How could he know that?").
I appreciated the research of the era and the weaponry that McVey has conducted. I had not heard of some of these guns and again, it was a joy to read. This definitely gives the story an authentic feel and reflects the attitude and reliance on guns in this era as well.
I loved the spiritual aspects of this novel. The prophet-like messages that Eva Little receives from God in relation to Marshall form a firm foundation for Marshall's new life and mission. Eva portrays a deep faith in God and is in full submission and obedience to Him. Seems to come naturally to her. What is McVey trying to convey to us here? For me, an obedient and submitted life to God becomes natural when we become disciplined in living out His Word in our lives. Eva was confident in this relationship as was shown by the many times she delivered these messages without doubt or alteration. She believes that every detail she received from God was the truth and would occur as He directed. Total vessel she was to be used by Him for His purposes only. It was all about God and not about her. I found this very encouraging. I even wondered if it was easier in that era to have this type of relationship with God compared to our modern era. Today's way of life and culture seems to offer too many distractions that blind us to the importance of placing God above all else and in all things.
McVey has portrayed Marshall as not knowing if he was Christian before his memory was erased by God. However, after coming out of his short coma, Marshall admits that Mrs Little's God is his God as well. He later submits a sincere prayer wanting to follow God. What follows for the rest of the novel is Marshall being obedient and submitted to whatever God wants of him in fulfilling His mission.
I have not read any of McVey other works but I have checked out his biography. Nugget Nate is a character who in this novel as well as a previous novel. In this novel, Nate also has a type of hearing from God that he calls the "Callin' ". I wonder if this is explained in the previous novel? I might read this to find out.
I have only one concern with this novel. It might be just me, but I found the second half has less of the deductive reasoning situations that sets Marshall apart from the rest of the Texas Rangers. This second half swings into more of a plot-based pace to find the perpetrators of the attempted assassination of the Governor. Yet, this half does set the stage for the further development of the Special Company of the Texas Rangers. It also lays the foundation for the next instalment in this series and that I am thankful for. McVey even hints at the title of this next instalment!
All in all a very enjoyable fun novella. It is strengthened with spiritual themes of salvation, faith, obedience and submission to God. I look forward to visiting the world of Marshall Texas Ranger in his next case.
Strongly Recommended. 4/5
World Building 5/5
World Building 5/5
Spiritual Level 4/5
Enemy Spiritual Level N/A
Overall Rating: 4/5
Spiritually, based on my review and on the following reference booklet,
A Spiritual System for Rating Books by David Bergsland, and that Marshall Texas Ranger: The Case of the Hidden Pasts contains elements of the criteria of what constitutes Christian Redemptive Fiction outlined in this booklet, (click on the title below to see what this is based on), I award George H. McVey with