U.S. Marshal Alistair Taggart has spent almost seven years protecting the citizens of Bleeding Kansas from the lawlessness surrounding its push to achieve statehood. Now, Kansas has entered the Union as a free state, but the violence threatens to continue when the Civil War erupts only three months later.
During one of Taggart's regular visits to the former Kansas territorial capital of Lecompton, local rancher James Harper enlists the marshal's help to catch the cattle rustlers intent on stealing his livelihood. But Kansas is just beginning its reign as the wildest state in the Union, and Taggart must also deal with Jayhawkers, highwaymen, unpredictable weather, and those hell-bent on revenge. Taggart finds his job further complicated by a runaway slave and animals gone delinquent, along with his own concerns that age may finally be catching up with him.
Solving the case will prove harder than Taggart ever imagined, and its resolution will cost him dearly. Sometimes, justice only comes with a price...
*May Contain Spoilers*
J.D. McCall takes readers to the past with his novel, South of Rising Sun. Set just before the Civil War, this novel combines the joy of the western genre with crime and the underground railroad. Weaving a complicated tale, McCall intrigues and entertains readers with an accurate representation of Kansas in the 1850s and 60s.
Alistair Taggert is the main character in this delicate plot. He's a United States Marshal who values morality above the law, and serves both when they happen to coincide. Readers will like his honesty, loyalty, and dedication. These three traits will quickly lead to respect as the story continues. Taggert displays understanding and compassion to those who need it but also takes crime seriously, often treating criminals with more than they deserve. He believes in second chances and thinks the best of people until proven otherwise. Readers will connect with Taggert as a both a friend and a respected community official. Though Taggert sometimes seems too good to be true, the writer does share his past follies with the readers to make him more realistic.
The plot is quite long and tangled, but the details and side stories are no less entertaining than the main story line. When Taggert is pursued by James Harper in need of aid to stop cattle thieves, Taggert vows that he'll help the man keep his livelihood. In the same town, Taggert comes across a runaway slave. Though the law dictates he should return the slave, his morality pushes him to aid the runaway. Add in some pesky behaving animals and a best friend who likes to blow things up, and readers will surely not be bored in a town South of Rising Sun.
Rating: 3/5 Cups