Deep Desert Deception (Smoke Tree Mystery Series Book 5) by Gary J. George

★★★★★    As a continuation of the Smoke Tree Mystery Series, Deep Desert Deception focuses on Sergeant Burke Henry as he attempts to outwit the Ku Klux Klan in rural Southern California. After a series of deployments ending in 1956, Burke finds himself a civilian once again with a deep desire to remain on the outskirts of society. A proud Kiowa Apache through his mother’s side, he is running from a troubled and heartbreaking childhood in Oklahoma after the KKK targeted his family. Often brutal but with an extreme sense of morality, Burke finds a home in Smoke Tree, California, on a plot of land way out on the edge of town. As he settles into a routine among the locals and makes friends with Captain Carlos “Horse” Caballo, past enemies begin to circle him looking for their last revenge. Burke can outsmart the Klan members sent to destroy him, but can he also escape the demons riding on his shoulders? With his trusted horse, Pepper, Burke is not a man to be messed with. He knows the desert and his land more than any man. And he never loses a fight.

Gary J. George has set up a diverse set of characters in an overlooked corner of the American southwest. Playing on themes of racism and bigotry surrounding Native American communities that resonate even today. Burke Henry is a complicated character that the reader will root for, even when his methods are brutal. The Smoke Tree community continues to add depth to the narrative and the author has an expert sense of plot development and set up. George builds up the tension and adventure only to bring it crashing around the reader when they least expect it. Full of back-country drama and the old cowboy sense of adventure, Deep Desert Deception is a Western novel  that  will lasso readers’ attention from the first word to the last gallop.

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