Trail Cook Chronicles, The
Author: David Michaelson
Publisher: Virtualbookworm.com Publishing (2012)
Binding: Paperback, 350 pages
David Michaelson has penned a fun story about a couple of young adventures traveling from Santa Fe, New Mexico to California, with many detours and adventures along the way. The Trail Cook Chronicles is the second novel in a trilogy, the first being Trail Cook, and I advise the reader to start with the first novel in order to fully appreciate the story. This reviewer has not read Trail Cook, and even though the author uses antidotes to connect the stories, I do not think I fully appreciate the story told in the second novel.
The story begins in the early 1870s at Fort Union, New Mexico where the commanding officer advises Able Piddington about the dangers he and his companion, Kristen, face. Able and Kristen are preparing to depart the fort on their Studebaker chuck wagon in search of a band of Apache Indians that had befriended them in the first novel. They planned to return the favor by escorting the Apaches to their reservation. After selecting suitable horses to ride and pull the chuck wagon, Able and Kristen depart and the adventure begins. A long legged dog joined them on the way to La Junta, where the readers learn that Able’s previous adventures and skills as a cook and boxer have made him a legend. Newspapers follow and report on his adventures. The dog, who is soon named Goper, proves himself to be a valuable traveling companion the second morning. Kristen awakens to find that a large rattlesnake had curled up next to her under her blanket. It seems Goper is a natural rattlesnake killer who savors roasted rattlesnake — making Gopher “big medicine” to the Apaches.
Able’s boxing and cooking abilities provide the foundation for the story. Soon after Able and Kristen join the band of Apaches, the band’s champion fighter challenges Able who must accept the challenge after the chief tells him, “It is our way to hold a great fighter in high esteem. There is one among us who has yet to be bested. Na’aki has asked to be tested against the legendary Able Piddington.” Similar fights occur in towns along the way, and wagering on Able becomes a source of income. After escorting the Apaches to the reservation Able and Kristen marry.
Kristen turns out to be another Annie Oakley, a natural shot with pistol and rifle. Like Able, she is challenged and her winnings are also a source of income. They spend the winter on a ranch where Able pays the rent by being the winter cook. April find them back on the chuck wagon headed for San Diego with a number of adventures along the trail.
Their western adventures end when they reach San Diego and board a ship for San Francisco to visit Kristen’s parents. Later they board a new steamer for a two-month cruise to London, Able hometown, to visit his parents. And this is where the story ends; however, the author envisions the Able, Kristen and their new son returning to Santa Fe, which will be third book in the trilogy.
Having lived in New Mexico and traveled to many of the places mentioned in the book, I was pleased by the author’s accuracy and attention to details. When Kristen used a .22 rifle to harvest two rabbits for dinner, I had to ask myself, was there was a .22 caliber rifle in the 1870s? Some quick research verified that there were indeed .22 rifles and black powder cartridge.
The Trail Cook Chronicles is a fun read.
Reviewed by: Lee Boyland (2012)