Old Dogs by Ron Schwab.
Published by Uplands Press.
All retired Texas Ranger Jack Wills wants is to live out his string on his Lucky Five ranch with his aging dog, Thor, longtime friend Rudolph Kilgore, and adopted son, Jordon Jackson. Until a young woman, Sierra Wills, shows up at the ranch with a wild story about being Jack’s granddaughter and begging help to recover her herd of horses stolen by the same Comancheros who murdered Jack’s son—a son he never knew existed. A long evening of conversation with Sierra leads retired ranger Wills to believe her story. Subsequently, he agrees to put together a team to recover her stolen herd.
The author does a satisfactory job of exploring the universal issue of aging and tying it to the plot. Sentimentality, aches, bodily ailments, and the desires for progeny’s future push this story forward. Schwab also handles fight scenes well—sufficient details to allow the reader to paint a vivid picture without dragging at the story.
However, billed as an adventure yarn, I was disappointed by the shortage of edge-of-seat suspense or rip-snorting action. Even the relationships, which take front and center throughout, felt rushed, robbing the book of the conflict and tension they should add. Thus, the telegraphed ending, which could have been both surprising and inevitable, fell flatter than a cowboy flapjack and lacked the kind of shocking surprise needed for a truly satisfying read.
Overall, while Old Dogs was worth a quick read, it doesn’t stand up to the best the genre has to offer, and I wouldn’t read it twice.