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Bear Claws by Robert Lee Murphy
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Bear Claws and its prequel Eagle Talons, comprise the first two books of a trilogy (the third book is Golden Spike) detailing the life and adventures of William Braddock. Eagle Talons opens in 1867 with the newly orphaned William deciding to run away to try to connect up with his uncle, Sean Corcoran, a surveyor working for the Union Pacific on the transcontinental railroad. What follows is a blizzard of adventures covering every conceivable western genre subplot and involving practically everyone of any historical importance in the construction of the first transcontinental railroad.

Bear Claws takes up William’s story in 1868. Its style is identical to the first volume: a series of hurried adventures populated by historical figures and minimally developed characters. Indeed, the numerous historical figure cameo appearances and William’s adventures-at-every-turn travels along the length of the eastern portion of the transcontinental railroad leaves the one with the sense that the book titles should have been “How William Braddock built the Transcontinental Railroad With a Little Help From His Friends Volume I, II and III”.

As someone who is very interested in railroad history I had high hopes for this series. A novel using even a portion of the backdrop of the actual construction of the first transcontinental railroad as a setting with fewer adventures and better character development could be so much more. ( )
  alco261 | Dec 31, 2016 |
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Fifteen-year-old Will Braddock works as a hunter for his uncles survey team, as the transcontinental railroad extends across Wyoming in 1868. Paddy OHannigan is determined to get even with those who caused the death of his fatherwhich means Will, his uncle, and former slave Homer Garcon. And Paddy has other nefarious designs: he intends to blow up presidential candidate Ulysses S. Grants train on the generals campaign trip into Wyoming. After saving a German count from a bear attack, in which he himself is badly mauled, Will must immediately turn his attention to his human opponent, the deadly and ruthless Paddy OHannigan.… (more)

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