L.J. Washburn’s 1987 novel, “Epitaph,” opens with Hank Littleton, a teenage boy, being raised by his grandfather in a small West Texas town. In a matter of days, Hank thwarts a robbery, killing two of the three would-be robbers, and in a completely separate incident, watches his grandfather, the sheriff, get gunned down and killed — just before Hank himself is shot and left for dead.
Hank sets out to right the wrong of his grandfather being killed and along the way meets an interesting cast of characters, including Buffalo Newcomb — who has a smelly possum for a pet and is as quick with his Sharps rifle or Arkansas Toothpick as he is with a story or a song — and two young women who were involved in his grandfather’s murder. Along with the men Hank is chasing and his father, a Texas Ranger, they all wind up in El Paso, battling for honor, revenge, their lives and enough to gold to make a man, or many men, very rich.
For Hank Littleton, it is a journey for revenge, a journey from a small town to a large city and a journey from boyhood to manhood. For us, the readers, it is just a very pleasant journey.
“Epitaph” is one of five Westerns written by L.J. Washburn, whose full name is Livia J. Washburn. Livia has expanded her love of publishing to include not only writing and editing, but also designing covers and producing books for Prairie Rose Publications and Western Fictioneers. She is married to James Reasoner (whose work was highlighted in this blog series on June 7) and started doing her own writing while working with James on his.