Book Review: Phil, the Fiddler

This is a western tale that portraits the Rival family tragedy. This dramatic story revolves around the stepson, Joshua, of Henry Rival and his cousin, Phil, the Fiddler who was a fearless truth teller in the twenty-eighth year of his life. Trouble really begins once Joshua proposes to Hilda Surrey.

Joshua is angered, by the lack of help and concern that Phil puts into the ranch activities that are needed to be done to make the ranch more profitable. Joshua knows in his mind that Phil should not inherit anything because he is doing nothing to improve the ranch. Why should he have half of Joshua’s labors? This is the instant when Joshua decides to blacken the reputation of Phil. His direction sees no boundaries and he devises a plan to gain the whole inheritance instead of sharing it with Phil. Being so consumed by his greed Joshua wants it all the land and cattle that covered the range, everything.

This plan in Joshua’s mind has several components and the first one will be that he will blacken Phil with a most despicable label of being a card cheat. The deed is secured and strengthened with the help of a seemingly innocent person the family lawyer. The lawyer will be paid cash money only when Joshua is the sole owner of the estate.

Phil is confronted and the equal split of the inheritance is dissolved and Joshua has complete control. Murder is committed and Phil is accused. Here is where the plan falls to pieces because Hilda whips Phil into action to clear his name and prove that someone else did these awful deeds to blacken his name.

This is an interestingly written story, which skillfully highlights the writing of the time. I feel that it is an excellent example of how successful westerns should still be written today. I recommend this story to all serious western readers I know you will savor the western flavor it exudes.

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