Saturday, February 22, 2020

Book Blog Tour and Giveaway: Rio Ruidoso (Three Rivers Trilogy #1) by Preston Lewis

Three Rivers Trilogy, 1

Genre: Historical Western
Publisher: Five Star Publishing
Date of Publication: February 19, 2020
Number of Pages: 299

2017 Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association:
Best Creative Work on West Texas

Scroll down for the giveaway!
Rio Ruidoso offers a gripping blend of history and story as two-time Spur Award-winner Preston Lewis explores the violent years before the famed Lincoln County War in New Mexico Territory. Seamlessly weaving fact with fiction, the author details the county’s corruption, racism, and violence through the eyes of protagonist Wes Bracken, newly arrived in the region to start a horse ranch with his alcoholic brother.

Bracken’s dreams for the Mirror B Ranch are threatened by his brother’s drunkenness, the corruption of economic kingpin Lawrence G. Murphy, and the murderous rampages of the racist Horrell Brothers. To bring tranquility to Lincoln County, Bracken must defeat those threats and stand his ground against the ever-changing alliances that complicate life and prosperity in multi-racial Lincoln County.

Preston Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of thirty novels. In addition to his two Western Writers of America Spurs, he received the 2018 Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Western Humor for Bluster’s Last Stand, the fourth volume in his comic western series The Memoirs of H. H. Lomax. Two other books in that series were Spur finalists. His comic western The Fleecing of Fort Griffin received the Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association for best creative work on the region.

- Why did you name your trio of books on the Lincoln County War “The Three Rivers Trilogy?” and what’ll make these books different from others about the feud?
The Rio Ruidoso and Rio Bonito converge to form the Rio Hondo in Lincoln County. As the first volume explores the arrival of my protagonist in Lincoln County, it seemed appropriate to call it Rio Ruidoso. Since the Rio Bonito runs by Lincoln, the second book focusing on the events of the feud itself bears that river’s name. As those two rivers converge into the Rio Hondo that watercourse name served as the title of the final book when the events of the first two come together for the ultimate resolution.

As for the differences from other novels about the Lincoln County War, I’ve tried to focus on lesser known incidents instead of those widely covered in past novels. Rio Ruidoso focuses on Lincoln County’s racial turmoil spawned by the Texas expatriate Horrell Brothers and the corruption of the Murphy machine. Rio Bonito examines the political tensions sparked by the assassination of Robert Casey and the economic pressures emerging from the arrival and ambitions of the Englishman Tunstall. Rio Hondo will look at the aftermath of the war, including the territorial efforts to clean the place up through an amnesty program. The territorial governor even spent several weeks in Lincoln meeting various outlaws—including Billy the Kid—to stop the violence by giving everyone a fresh start. The animosities, though, made that impractical if not impossible.

The result is a trilogy where Wes Bracken tries to navigate the corruption of Lincoln County without taking sides and still safely raise a family. In the end, Bracken is forced to make decisions that may be legally questionable though ethically correct.

- You’ve written of the Lincoln County War before in The Demise of Billy the Kid, one in your H.H. Lomax series. Why another novel, much less a trilogy?
Of all the feuds in the Old West, the Lincoln County War is the most complex and morally ambiguous. Lincoln County in the late 1870s and early 1880s was a complex cauldron boiling with personal ambitions and animosities. The numerous friction points included economic, ethnic, political and personal vendettas. Upstart new money from John H. Tunstall challenged Lawrence G. Murphy’s economic establishment. Small ranchers fought against cattle king John Chisum’s dominance. Anglo Texans harassed the native Hispanic populace. English versus Irish animosities played into the feud. You have competing law enforcement siding with different factions. You have Democrat versus Republican power struggles. In Rio Ruidoso my protagonist Wes Bracken arrives in Lincoln County, hoping to start a new life and breed horses. Bracken seeks to steer a neutral course in all his endeavors, but must come face-to-face with the intimidation of the five racist Horrell Brothers, lawbreaking refugees from Texas.

- How has the historiography of the Lincoln County War evolved since you became interested in the feud?
Almost from the beginning the legends trumped the history. To counter some of the unflattering accounts of the Kid’s death, Sheriff Pat Garrett published in 1882 The Authentic Life of Billy, the Kid, The Noted Desperado of the Southwest, ghostwritten by itinerant journalist Marshall Ashmun “Ash” Upson and based largely on hearsay and imagination. Dime novels muddied the waters even more. In 1926 Walter Noble Burns, another journalist who never let the facts get in the way of a good story, published The Saga of Billy the Kid, which revived the interest in Billy the Kid. At about the same time, serious historians like Maurice G. Fulton of New Mexico Military Institute began trying to sort fact from fiction. His research was edited and published by Robert Mullin as History of the Lincoln County War. Generally, Billy the Kid’s faction headed by John Tunstall and Alexander McSween were perceived as the right side of the feud versus the crooked Lawrence G. Murphy/James J. Dolan political machine. More current research tends to see Tunstall and McSween as just as ambitious and economically ruthless as the Murphy/Dolan faction, but they were na├»ve newcomers to Lincoln County without the political and legal connections they needed to succeed and without the frontier smarts to survive. The Lincoln County War story continues to grow with more research and publications on the peripheral players and their roles in the feud. Though Billy the Kid was a minor figure in the war itself, he came to dominate the story of the feud because he seemed to be at all the wrong places at the right time for the characteristic violence of the feud.
1ST PRIZE: Signed Copies of Rio Ruidoso & Bluster's Last Stand
2ND PRIZE: Signed Copy of Rio Ruidoso
FEBRUARY 18-28, 2020

Author Interview
Author Interview

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  1. Thank you for the opportunity to win this great award

  2. What a fantastic interview! Even though I grew up watching the Young Guns movies, it didn't even register to me that this was ultimately leading to the infamous Lincoln County War until midway through the book. (My Old West history is a bit rusty too) Obviously, before picking up my copy I did remember reading the mention of this on the back cover. But as I was sucked into the story of Wes Bracken I was so immersed in the moment I forgot until almost the end. Great insight from the author and looking forward to reading how he fuses the three narratives together :D