EverReady Review Book Review
The Lights of Cimarrón: My love is true, it shines for you like The Lights of Cimarrón
lyric from the song The Lights of Cimarrón
Spur Award winning author Jim Jones is a popular western writer whose five novels are set in Northern New Mexico in the late 1880’s during the time period of the Colfax County Wars. These land dispute range wars occurred between the settlers and the new owners of the Maxwell Land Grant. Several of the same characters make appearances throughout Jones’s books adding continuity to the story line. Jones has previously written the Jared Delaney Series, starting with Rustler’s Moon, followed by Colorado Moon and Waning Moon. The Big Empty is the first book in a spin off series with Sheriff Tommy Stallings, who continues his prominent role in Jones’ newest book The Lights of Cimarrón. The book is scheduled for publication April 17th by Five Star Publishing.
A rancher’s murder and his son with missing livestock jump start the action bringing Sheriff Stallings quickly into the investigation in Cimarrón. Sheriff Stallings suspects the culprits are members of a gang called the White Caps. They are from nearby San Miguel County led by Felipe Alvarado who uses his job as a reputable saloon owner as a cover up. Rusty, Tommy’s cousin from Texas, emerges into the action. Sheriff Stallings enlists the help of his cousin to help track down the desperadoes who steal cattle and horses from unsuspecting ranchers and then murder them. In exchange for his help Rusty asks Tommy to return to Texas with him to help out his family that has been plagued with rustlers. Nathan Averill, former sheriff of Cimarrón, comes out of retirement to assist in their efforts to stop the White Caps reign of terror. They locate the gang’s hideout in the canyons north of Cimarrón. but their investigation is quickly interrupted. Corrupt politicians insist Sheriff Stallings move his office to the nearby town of Springer, the county seat. They hope this demand to move quickly will thwart Sheriff Stallings’s investigation tracking down these deadly hombres. Obstacles seem to mount at every turn for Tommy, especially contending with an accusation that he took a bribe to look the other way as the unremorseful murderous White Caps gang seem to be unstoppable. Added to Sherriff Stallings’s woes his wife Mollie refuses to move to Springer to leave her school teaching job behind.
The Old West has always held a strong fascination for readers who enjoy this type of genre. Jones takes advantage of the historical context of what was happening during the time period of late 1880’s by incorporating factual details into his books. It’s obvious Jones spent a lot of scholarly research as well as consultation with those who have first hand knowledge of this historical time period to maintain accuracy in his writing. Jones who lives in the Albuquerque area is familiar with the landscape of New Mexico, the towns of Springer and Cimarrón, as well as the aspects of cowboys and ranching which lend credibility to his writing.
Jones wisely incorporates the many popular elements of a western novel with characters who are cowboys, ranchers, homesteaders, gunfighters, sheriffs, rangers and frontiersmen against the backdrop of a harsh but beautiful land. Jones is committed to writing a good story with compelling characters. He uses dialogue to move the action of the story along rather than employing lengthy descriptions of place. First person narrative voice often switches several times within a chapter requiring careful reading. The strength of Jones’s novel is character development. His characters are resourceful, tough and resilient. Some lack morals while other demonstrate strong convictions. Most of the characters are men. Women play a secondary role to the story line. There are times during the story when a character (the narrator) will digress from the story line with an introspective comment or two on lessons learned.
Readers will find the book an easy read holding their attention right down to the last line as they figure out if these desperadoes will be caught and if caught how will it happen. But note the book’s ending does not tie up all loose ends leaving the story line open for characters to continue their adventures into subsequent books where loose ends will be tied up.
Jim Jones is the Western Music Association’s 2014 Male Performer of the Year and winner of both the Academy of Western Artists 2016 Western Song of the Year and Western Writers of America 2013 and 2017 Spur Awards for Best Western Song. Jones is a storyteller whose songs and books are all about the allure of the Old West. It’s interesting to note that Jones’s music has had a direct correlation with his writing. His first book Rustler’s Moon grew out of a song he wrote a few years ago. Jones felt the characters in that song seemed to need a bigger platform to tell their stories. All of his books except for The Big Empty have songs associated with them. He often performs music when doing book presentations.