“Far Bright Star”: by Robert Olmstead. Thorndike Press, Copyright 2009. 277 pages. Large Print.
In the summer of 1916, a seasoned cavalryman who goes by the name Napoleon leads a mixed group of experienced and inexperienced misfits on a mission to seek out Pancho Villa and his gang of bandits. A few months prior, Pancho Villa and his men terrorized the small town of Columbus, New Mexico, where they looted, massacred, and burned down most of the town. The United States government declared war against the Mexican terrorists and assembled the troop to hunt down the notorious guerrillas.
Their journey starts from a brothel and bar in New Mexico and extends into Northern Mexican desolate land. Each member of Napoleon’s team have different motives as to why they joined the expedition, including Napoleon himself. Some enjoy the thrill of the hunt, others have a taste for blood, a desire to serve the U.S. Army, or perhaps have no other place to belong. Napoleon doubts the majority of oddballs in his newly assigned squad have any business joining the operation. Napoleon’s introverted and preferably isolated brother joins the company as his love for all things horses drives him to care for the squad’s steeds.
When the team finds themselves in unanticipated territory with an unforeseen hostile, and merciless adversary, the aftermath leaves Napoleon questioning his entire existence.
Author Robert Olmstead entertains his readers by describing each character’s unique personality and history in an old western-like setting. He writes of the unforgiving world of the Mexican desert where different rules are at play and rebels are prevalent.
Olmstead depicts the crude realities of life in the desert, and of war, with some vile and cruel depictions sprinkled throughout. The mission was to capture the elusive Pancho Villa, but instead changed the course of Napoleon’s life forever. Readers who appreciate rugged western adventures, rustic narratives, and ominous ventures based on true historic events will enjoy perusing the pages of this work of historical fiction.
Susie Flores is the Mobile Café Representative at Alamance County Public Libraries. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.