Thursday, March 22, 2012

Stuart Brannon's Final Shot by Stephen Bly - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Stuart Brannon's Final Shot
Center Poi Pub; Lrg edition (March 2012)
Stephen Bly


Stephen Bly (August 17, 1944 – June 9, 2011) authored 106 books and hundreds of articles and short stories. His book, The Long Trail Home (Broadman & Holman), won the prestigious 2002 Christy Award for excellence in Christian fiction in the category western novel. Three other books, Picture Rock (Crossway Books), The Outlaw’s Twin Sister (Crossway Books), and Last of the Texas Camp (Broadman & Holman), were Christy Award finalists. He spoke at colleges, churches, camps and conferences across the U.S. and Canada. He was the pastor of Winchester Community Church, and served as mayor of Winchester, Idaho (2000-2007). He spoke on numerous television and radio programs, including Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. He was an Active Member of the Western Writers of America. Steve graduated summa cum laude in Philosophy from Fresno State University and received a M.Div from Fuller Theological Seminary. The Blys have three sons: Russell (married to Lois) and father of Zachary and Miranda (married to Chris Ross) and mother of Alayah; Michael (married to Michelle); and Aaron (married to Rina Joye) and father of Keaton and Deckard. A third generation westerner, Steve spent his early years working on California farms owned by his father and an uncle.

Janet Chester Bly received a B.S. degree in Literature & Languages and Fine & Performing Arts from Lewis-Clark State College, Lewiston, Idaho. She speaks at women’s luncheons and retreats and does writers’ workshops. She is a member of Winchester Community Church where she serves as music director. She has authored eleven nonfiction and fiction books and co-authored twenty others, as well as contributed to five books. Janet’s hobbies include decorating her home in “country clutter,” reading almost all genres of fiction and mall walking. She lives in Winchester, Idaho–elevation 4,000 feet, population 300– situated on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation.


In 1905, at 58 years old, legendary lawman Stuart Brannon - now a rancher and widower - had no intention of leaving his beloved Arizona Territory to attend the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland, Oregon, nor to participate in the celebrity golf tournament for the Willamette Orphan Farm. Even an emotional appeal for his longtime friend didn’t persuade him. His life no longer consisted of bloodthirsty men to track down . . . people trying to kill him . . . lawless gangs preying on the innocent.

Then the telegram came: Stuart, I need you in Portland. Tim Wiseman is missing. I think there’s a cover-up going on. Tell folks you’re going to the Exposition. Nose around. Find out how a U.S. Marshal can disappear and no one knows why. I’ll contact you there. T.R.

How could he refuse a request from the President of the United States?

My Thoughts:

I wish you moments of true joy, Stuart.” (p.386)

Although I’ve not read a lot of Stephen Bly’s work, I imagine that Stuart Brannon is probably very similar to the man who created him. A true, classic cowboy hero, in the later years of life and entering into a new era of cars and golf clubs, Stuart faces some unexpected challenges in fighting crime and solving mysteries! Yet he handles it all with the calm assurance that only a truly honest man possesses regardless of his situation. The ending is a satisfying tribute to both the author and his created hero.

I don’t consider myself a “fan” of this genre, but there is a certain timelessness about Bly’s hero that deserves a closer look. The fact that his wife and family took the time and effort to ensure that his final book was published after his death makes it even more meaningful. And it may just be my overactive mind, but I felt like Stuart’s longing to finally take a “real” vacation, as well as other subtle innuendoes toward the end of the novel, made a fitting ending to this author’s career.

If you are a fan of cowboy fiction, please don’t miss this story!

If you would like to read the first chapter of Stuart Brannon's Final Shot, go HERE.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Greetings, Kim: Thank you so much for your review and for the feature on your blog of Stuart Brannon's Final Shot by Stephen Bly and myself and our sons. For those interested in knowing more about the story behind the writing of this story, check out our blog at
Janet Chester Bly