Kathleen Kent. A wonderful writer. I read The Heretic's Daughter a few years ago and just loved it--what an emotionally wrenching novel! I was pleased to see this new novel sitting on our new release table at work, and it fit neatly into my class assignment for reading a western. Yes, a western. Kathleen Kent jumps from witch hunts in New England in The Heretic's Daughter to the Texas Frontier in 1870 in her new novel.
Center stage are two characters: Nate Cannon, a Texas lawman, and Lucinda Carter, a prostitute who suffers from debilitating epileptic seizures. Lucinda is a complex character; a woman who was put into an asylum as a child, and has a knack for geometry and complicated mathematics. She's also been forced into working at a brothel and meets a man who promises her a way out. But first she must follow his plan.
Nate Cannon is a young lawman who is assigned to send news of an escaped criminal and notorious murderer--McGill--to two lawmen who have been chasing him for years. Dr. Tom and and Deerling are two seasoned lawmen who, for personal reasons, are determined to find and capture McGill. You soon quickly learn that McGill is an unrepentant, cold-blooded, horrible man who will kill anyone for money--or just because he can. Nate finds himself bonding with the two men and helps them on their journey through Texas and into Louisiana on a breathless chase to find McGill before he kills again. Once again I am amazed at how long people could ride a horse and how far they could travel. Exhausting and hard work.
So what's the connection between Lucinda and Nate? Lucinda's mysterious man is McGill himself. Does she realize he is a murderer and go along with him anyway? I'll leave that for you to decide. Lucinda is a study in a woman who does what she needs to in order to survive, yet at the same time is yearning for a quiet life and some peace. She is complex, sorrowful, yet devious at the same time. Will she end up as McGill's next victim?
This was a really good novel; Lucinda's character has equal time with Nate's character as both move closer to the inevitable meeting in New Orleans. Nate is an example of always being tested; he struggles to keep his sense of fairness and honesty as he delves deeper into the ugly side of life.
Kathleen Kent's The Outcasts is a blend of western action, female struggle, and making choices for good or bad. Lots of action; great characters both major and minor. You will turn the last page and take a deep breath.
Rating: 8/10 for an action novel that features a complex female lead; an ending that neatly ties up loose ends yet leaves you wanting more.
Available in hardcover, e-book, and audio.