Tuesday, August 2, 2022

[Review] - 'Down Range' by Taylor Moore

A Down Range paperback (published by William Morrow) had been sitting on a Walmart shelf collecting dust for nearly two months when I finally bought it. What lured me in was the back-cover quote from Providence Journal - "A masterwork of classic storytelling: a man defending his own in the best tradition of John Wayne or Clint Eastwood film." I'm in no way a John Wayne fan, but I love anything Eastwood-related.

Down Range is the debut novel by sixth-generation Texan Taylor Moore, a former CIA intelligence officer. The story centers on undercover DEA special agent Garrett Kohl. After a short mission in Afghanistan goes wrong, Garret is assigned to protect the only witness - a young boy named Asadi. The only place Asadi will be safe is the last place Garrett wants to visit - home.  

Garrett brings Asadi to his father's rundown ranch in the Texas Pandhandle. Shockingly, his father takes a shine to Asadi right away. Upon arriving, Garrett planned on taking it easy while avoiding the locals. Well, that plan gets thrown out the window quickly. Garrett's brother has gotten himself mixed in with a band of criminals who have infiltrated the local law enforcement and businesses. It's up to Garrett to protect his family at all costs.

Final Thoughts

Let me start by talking about something that ticks me off - the cover. The book takes place during winter, with snow covering the ground. Is that setting represented on the cover design? Nope!

Taylor Moore's writing is rough around the edges, but the story isn't half bad for a debut novel. His character Garrett Kohl is a blend of C.J. Box's Joe Pickett, Lee Child's Jack Reacher, and Elmore Leonard's Raylan Givens. FYI - I'm a fan of all these characters, so naturally, I liked Garrett Kohl from the get-go.

The story is "the prodigal son returns home." Yes, this plot has been used countless times by other authors. Down Range could've fallen into the cliched category, but thanks to a likable hero and plenty of action scenes, I was never bored.

Overall, Down Range is an exciting modern-day western thriller that's hard to put down until you've read the last page.

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