Last Thursday, I got a tiny little e-mail from David Cranmer asking if I would be interested in reading a nifty little novella western and offering my opinions of same. Pleased about the fact that David genuinely values my opinion on something and getting free goodies (who wouldn't want free goodies, eh?), I thanked him for the novella and said I would be more than happy to offer my opinion on it.
After printing it out (David was thoughtful enough to send it as PDF file for me) and briefly glancing at it, I brought to work with the intent of reading it at break time. Imagine my surprise when I sat down at break time and saw that the author of this fantastic little novella was not Edward Grainger but Heath Lowrence.
To be honest with everyone, the first thing that popped into my head was, "Uh-oh." Why? From my past encounters with the written word, whenever a well known writer has someone else write stories based on a character of theirs, it usually means that 1) they're too tired to continue writing the character or 2) they've run out of gas with the character or 3) they need the money. However, such was not the case with David.
As he eloquently stated in a recent blog post, he had several well respected writers come up to him and ask if they could write stories featuring his two soon-to-be iconic characters Gideon Miles and Cash Laramie. Such was the case with Heath Lowrence and this current novella "Miles To Little Ridge".
Anyways, I sat down in the lobby during my break and started reading the story. To say it kept my interest all the way to the end would be an distinct understatement. One little known fact about me when it comes to reading is that if a story, be it a short story, novella or novel, grabs my interest, I have a tendency to do a weird thing at work that I like to call "walk and read".
"Walk and read" is simply me reading the story and walking back to my cubicle. Lest you think that's easy, it's not. I read while walking from the lobby to the elevator, on the elevator, and walking off the elevator back to my cubicle on the 8th floor.
The novella itself is only 23 pages in length and even though the plot was pretty basic with a slight swerve (Gideon going after a wanted man and two others coming after him) and a very quick read (for me about 20 minutes), it kept my attention to the very end and frustratingly enough, the ending was written in such a way that I was actually disappointed that it did end. Only a couple of stories that I've ever read in the past six years have left me in that state of being, and I'm proud to say that this story is one of them.
Heath Lowrance does a masterful job of not only nailing the Gideon Miles character to a T but keeping the same historical background nuances relevant but not overpowering. "Miles To Little Ridge" is a excellent compliment to Edward Grainger's Gideon Miles and Cash Laramie series and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys the western genre.