The book I’m reviewing today, “Port Hazard,” was written in 2004 by Loren Estleman. It is Estleman’s seventh book in his “Page Murdock” series. If you’re a regular reader of Westerns, the name will be familiar, and if you’re a regular reader of my blog, it will also be familiar — since he was the highlighted author last week when I wrote about his great book, “The Wolfer.”
“Port Hazard” was one of the entries in my book “52 Weeks • 52 Western Novels.” Eric Harper, a fan of Loren and the book, did a terrific job of discussing it. Rather than steal liberally from his entry, I will steal in full. This is what Eric had to say, and I agree 100 percent…
“Page Murdock is a federal agent whose beat is the American West. As the deputy marshal for the U.S. district court, territory of Montana, Murdock is a chess piece moving from trouble spot to trouble spot enforcing the law with his Deane-Adams revolver and taciturn resolve. It’s been almost twenty years since the Civil War, and Americans want to believe the conflict between the North and South is over. But after an attempt on Murdock’s life by the Sons of the Confederacy, his superior — firebrand Federal Judge Harlan A. Blackthorne — sends Murdock into the rebels’ new nest, San Francisco. His task is to drive a wedge between young latter-day Confederates willing to reignite the war with violence and their secretive elders manipulating legislation to help the South rise again.
Frisco, and the even rougher Barbary, are foreign lands to Murdock. The streets are a maze filled with Tong warlords, dope peddlers, cutpurses and Cockney hoodlums instead of rustlers and cowboys. But Murdock is not above a little thieving and brutality in the service of his mission, and the delinquents of Barbary may be Murdock’s greatest weapon against the new Confederates.”
Loren Estleman is prolific Western writer with almost 30 Western novels to his name, including his well-received “Page Murdock” series. He is a five-time winner of the Spur Award from Western Writers of America. I recently had a chance to meet and spend a little time with Loren. He was an absolute delight and generous with his time and advice.