Johnny D. Boggs has become my second favorite living Western author. His books are always interesting and unique, and Hard Winter was no exception. It grabbed me from the beginning and held my interest all the way through, despite not one single shootout.
The story is told by 50-year-old Jim Hawkins on a ride with his grandson to visit some old haunts from Jim’s younger days. He tells about leaving Texas after a harsh winter killed too many cattle, about coming to Montana, stringing barbed wire, avoiding a range war, and eventually facing a winter even worse than the one in Texas. It’s a story about friendship, coming of age, and life on the northern frontier.
It’s labeled as juvenile fiction, but the only place I really felt like it held back noticeably was when Jim wouldn’t tell his grandson the actual cuss words being said as events unfolded. And, like I said, there were no shootouts, no hangings, no on-screen murders, etc. It’s a good, clean story, fit for younger readers, but with plenty of meat for older folks.
I listened to this on audio and I have to say that William Roberts did an excellent job voicing Jim Hawkins.
This is a fine book by an excellent author. I definitely recommend it.