BEYOND THE RIVER is a highly realistic character study of a group of people, good, bad, innocent and evil, trapped together during a crisis and how each person deals with a frightening, horrific Indian attack at the Cobb Relay station. It is an unusual group that fate flings together at the stage stop. The young wife and mother Amy Kay, her husband, the outlaw's led by Will January and Texas lawman's son Nate Doubletree, the station's owner and his adopted Mexican children.

In a time of crisis those who felt they had no power become strong and those who think they are invincible show their weakness and cowardice. As the Indians attack and one by one the group is killed or taken captive, we witness to the growing respect between those remaining and the fear they will never leave the station alive. It is at a time like this that an unlikely love grows between the A.K. and Tom.

Wynema McGowan makes us understand what a priceless gift life is and how fleeting it can be. Her portraits of the unique people brought together to face their destiny is fascinating. Though a dark and violent tale, this novel is a western realist's feast, but not a book for the true romantic. Men and women who appreciate the vagaries of fate and the wildness of the west will treasure BEYOND THE RIVER, Ms. McGowan's tribute to the hearty pioneers. (Aug., 350 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin