Four teenage boys try to rape an off-duty prostitute and subsequently kick to death the inoffensive man who attempts to rescue her.  The sheriff of Kiowa, Colorado, Matt Wyatt, arrests the four brutes, only to encounter the violent fury of one of the boys’ fathers and the fearful bearing of false witness about the crime.  A partial High Noon situation emerges, along with Matt’s getting twice wounded.  But he receives needed help from the murdered man’s brothers.

Sometimes, when reading Westerns, you get the sense that the stakes are not all that high.  Not so with A Killing in Kiowa (1972) by Lewis B. Patten.  The stakes seem sky high from beginning to end.  It’s a vivid and vigorous tale Patten imparts, with time not always presented in a linear fashion.  Also, I’m glad it avoids the frequently used cattlemen-vs.-farmer conflict.

Kiowa County, 1898

Kiowa County, 1898 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)