This is a novelized true story of the American West, and as the subtitle says, it’s Epic. I’d never come across this tale before, and it’s a great adventure story of one man’s race against time, human enemies and nature. Sacramento, California, 1855, the Gold Rush era. Louis Remme, a cattle rancher and horse trader, has just put a large fortune in gold, representing most of his earnings from the past few years, in a bank he trusts, and traveled down to San Francisco to enjoy a rare rest. While there, he learns that his bank is about to go under. He hurries back to Sacramento, but is just too late to get any of his money. Then he learns that news of the bankruptcy is being sent by paddlewheel steamer up the coast to Portland Oregon to his local branch there. The boat will take six days to reach Portland by sea and the Columbia River. No other means of communication is faster in that era, and until then, the bank branch will remain open for business. Remme has a wild idea…it sounds impossible…ride like a madman hundreds of miles across forests, over mountains, avoiding hostile Indians, wolves, winter blizzards and other dangers to beat the steamer and cash out his savings.
An exciting story, well told. My only problem with the writing is that about half the book is the main adventure, the rest is flashbacks filling in Remme’s life and other escapades, but the transitions to these flashbacks are so subtle that at times it’s hard to know if one is in the past or the present. And they do slow down the narrative, too. But that’s a minor point, if you like this sort of thing you’ll enjoy the book. Thorn Bacon’s writing career was mainly in newspapers and mainstream magazines, and he knows how to tell a story.