Suspense fans everywhere have wondered what happened to Trevanian, the author who thrilled and enthralled them with five superb action novels in the 1970s and early 1980s.
The anonymous author, who adamantly refused to be identified to protect his privacy, is well remembered for "The Main," "The Eiger Sanction," "The Loo Sanction," "The Summer of Katya" and "Shibumi."
The world-wide guessing game surrounding his identity made Trevanian one of the most famous literary cult figures during the last 15 years.
Mystery expert William L. DeAndrea, in his biographical piece on Trevanian in his 1994 "Encyclopedia Mysteriosa," revealed the pseudonymous spellbinder as Rodney Whitaker, a U.S. academic and mystery writer.
However, publicity attending publication of "Incident at Twenty-Mile" persists in maintaining that Trevanian, its creator, maintains his anonymity.
But Trevanian -- or Whitaker -- delivers, in "Incident at Twenty-Mile," a colorful story.
It is set a century ago and backdropped by a sun-drenched ghost town of Twenty-Mile, Wyoming, where a narrow gauge train stopped halfway between Surprise Load and the boom town of Destiny. At the time, Twenty-Mile's little cluster of typical Old West buildings was slipping into oblivion.
When suddenly, through the butterfly wing shutters of the saloon's entrance, steps young Matthew Dubchek, a.k.a. the Ringo Kid. A compulsive liar with a habit of using aliases, Dubchek gets to eye-balling the town and sets himself up in the marshal's abandoned office.
A whirlwind blows into town with the arrival of crazed killer Hamilton Lieder, an escapee from state prison. Lieder, portrayed as a patriot/villain, and two other thugs want to get the silver miners in town to join them as they wait to hold up the train.
Much noise, commotion and jockeying for position leads to a wonderfully ironic denouement as night falls.
Trevanian has always been a skilled storyteller and maintained that talent, 15 years after his rousing early novels -- plotting, characterizations, dialogue, scenery -- all impeccably rendered, as of old.
INCIDENT AT TWENTY-MILE
308 pages, $24.95
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