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Jeston Nash Books In Order

Publication Order of Jeston Nash Books

While Angels Dance (1994) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Powder River (1995) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Price of a Horse (1996) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Cost of a Killing (1996) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Killers of Man (1997) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Trick of the Trade (1997) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle


The 19th century is a great milestone for the American history. It is difficult to determine one period as crucial for the development of a country, but if one just had to pinpoint the time where the USA took its decisive turn towards the cultivation of democracy, it is the 1800s, especially the second part of the century. Things did not seem bright throughout the Civil War, with all the casualties and the economic disaster, let alone clashes of the vicious gangs. Law seemed like an abstract notion and gangs used the general turmoil to do inconceivable atrocities, all for their personal gain. One of the gangs was led by Jesse James, a notorious villain. His criminal enterprises inspired many writers and filmmakers. However, this is not a story about the most famous bushwacker, at least not the one where he is the main character. This is the story about his cousin, Jeston Nash.

Jeston Nash is a character created by Ralph Cotton, a well-known author of Westerns. This genre is somewhat polarizing- there are many readers who frown upon mere mention of the Western novel, whereas other faction finds unusual pleasure in immersing into the world of cowboys and (lovable) rascals who lived in times where you could not expect nor plan much, but you had a certain sense of freedom unknown to the present inhabitants of the USA, or the world for that matter. Ralph Cotton understands this as he writes “Jeston Nash series”, much liked by the fans and the critics. The series centers around Jeston Nash, a typical farmer caught in the insanity of the age. Jeston is trying to keep his head down and live his life by the book. Nevertheless, life has an ace up its sleeve and it deals Jeston poor cards. He is forced to take a rough path of dubious moral decisions and try to find a new place in the world where gun means law.

The first book of the “Jeston Nash series” called “While Angels Dance: The Life and Times of Jeston Nash” was published in July 1994. This novel had a difficult job to evoke the feel of the world that is familiar to basically anybody who finished elementary school, while introducing new characters and keeping facts more or less straight. Cotton does this by presenting us with Jeston Nash, a son of a farmer from Kentucky. Jeston is a working man who has a way with horses, even with restless mares and rampant studs. Jeston is too busy minding his own business to perceive fully that the world is changing around him. However, if the mountain will not come to Muhammad… On one day, not unlike many others, Jeston tries to cut a deal with a Yankee soldier regarding the horse. Unfortunately, things become heated as one thing leads to another and the next thing Jeston knows is that he stands over a dead body.

This is a life changer- days of peace passed for our protagonist. In addition, Jeston’s father suffers greatly while trying to save his son. With nothing to lose, and burdened with inner demons, Jeston decides to reach out to his cousins and try to help them in their business projects. The catch is that the business project are in fact robberies, and the cousins are no less than the notorious James Brothers- Jesse and Frank. Jeston was always told that he looks much like Jesse and he bears witness to that fact as he tries to enter James-Younger gang. The robbers are happy to take in one of their own and they start pillaging and killing all along Kansas and the northern regions. Of course Western is not a Western without a notable antagonist, and that notion here is embodied in Daniel Zanone, a corrupt member of the militia who took part in the death of Jeston’s child. Their rivalry will become a primary focus in a novel filled with stock characters, sidekicks and of course romantic interests. There will be hookers with a heart of gold, as well as a possibility of real love. Is that going to be enough for Jeston to find his consolation and ultimately redemption?

“Powder River: A Jeston Nash Adventure” is a follow-up to the first novel of the “Jeston Nash series”. The war is over, however not much time has passed- barely three years. Repercussions are still felt as despair is slowly being replaced with a new hope for the restored homeland. Jeston is still living in the shadow of his cousin whom he resembles so much. He is a changed man. The farmer is gone, and now it is about survival. Jeston rides with his sidekick, a giant named Quiet Jack Smith, as they try to reach Powder River. On the way to their destination, Jeston and Jack arrive at Crofton, a town that spells trouble from the first moment. It does not take long for ill-tempered Jeston to sink deep- he kills a man who tries to steal his horse. This is a major mistake as Nash got a bounty hunter on his back, as well as the dangerous outlaw gang. This is not the only problem Jeston and Jack will come across. As they try to outrun their enemies, they fall in the middle of the feud between US cavalry and the Sioux nation. The army is not the biggest threat for the Indians- it is their own conflict that makes the job easier for their foes. This is the situation that the protagonist of the novel discovers- and of course, as it usually is, he can not stay neutral. What is Jeston’s next move? Who is the mysterious man called Big Shod who joins him and Jack on their journey? Are they going to make it through this adventure?

It is interesting to mention that the “Jeston Nash series” is fairly based on facts. Ralph Cotton really did his homework as he tried to depict Jesse James and his infamous gang realistically. It is interesting to see how lives of fictional and real characters intertwine in a world that has always been the inspiration for numerous writers. Maybe this is the key to the popularity of the series, not just among readers, but also critics-let’s not forget that Jeston’s misadventures were nominated for Pulitzer’s Award. And they say that Western is dead.

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