Book Review of The Road to a Hanging (Leisure Western)

The Road to a Hanging (Leisure Western)
The Road to a Hanging (Leisure Western)
Author: Mike Kearby
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
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Reviewed by Grandma Bev for TeensReadToo.com

A young Negro slave by the name of George Anderson dreamed of being free, and when the advance of the Union Army brought them close to where he lived, he grabbed his chance and ran away to join them. He was made a member of the 62nd United States Colored Infantry, First Regiment, and was known as "Free" Anderson. He became friends with Parks Scott, a white Lieutenant who had offered to teach any man from the 62nd to read and write.

Now the Civil War was ending, and Anderson was at the Boca Chica in Texas. A confrontation makes an enemy of the cowardly Corporal Jubal Thompson. They are destined to meet each other again, only this time Thompson is a rogue Sheriff carrying out his vow of vengeance against Free. Jubal and his cohorts frame Anderson for cattle theft, and Free is convicted of the trumped-up charges, then thrown into jail to await hanging. Thompson hadn't counted on the young black woman, Clara, who was attracted to the prisoner and brought him food. Then Clara, along with Parks Scott, who now rounds up and sells mustangs, helps Free to escape. Jubal Thompson vows to re-capture Anderson and carry out his hanging sentence along with prosecution for anyone who helped him -- and the action kicks into high gear as Thompson chases Free across the Texas frontier.

Kearby includes a glossary of terms and words in Indian, western slang, and Spanish languages, and a page of questions for classroom use. THE ROAD TO A HANGING is the first book in a trilogy that follows the last battle of the Civil War when ex-slaves realized that freedom was often an empty word, and a state that was hard to gain.

The accuracy of the historical detail in this fast-moving saga, with Wild Bill Hickok, George Armstrong Custer, Charlie Goodnight, and other real-life characters joining the fictional Free Anderson and Parks Scott as they contribute their legends to western lore, make this an educational as well as an exciting read. Mike Kearby is a master at characterization and plotting and keeps the suspense sharp right up to the satisfying ending.