Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Communications executive Eidson turns from balance sheets to saddlebags in this lean first novel in the Western genre. Nat Swanson is on the run from a mob of Texas cowboys after having killed one of their friends. A bullet in his leg slows him down and threatens his life. The posse is closing in, and his chances of survival look dim. Trying desperately to get to sanctuary in California, he comes upon two freight wagons besieged by Apaches, and, against his better judgment, he stops to help. He kills one of the Indians with his grandfather's antique crossbow, buying time for whoever survives behind the wagons. Thinking he's done his good deed, he continues his flight. One of those trapped, however, is 76-year-old Sister Agnes, who prays to God for a man to deliver her, her fellow nuns and the seven orphans they are transporting. Once she utters her prayer, readers know that Swanson is the longed-for savior and that his path will cross theirs again. Eidson tells the tale of their subsequent salvation in taut, spare, visual prose reminiscent of Larry McMurtry, who in fact is writing the screenplay for the movie version, to be retitled The Standoff. Film rights to Universal; Readers Digest Condensed Book selection. (Apr.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
The publisher has really hit the jackpot with this book. The author's first novel is so alive, so exciting, so Western that Universal Pictures has purchased the film rights. (May the screenplay--by Larry McMurtry--be faithful to the story and its message.) Nat Swanson, running from vengeful Texas cowboys, finds in the desert of New Mexico both trouble and his destiny--three nuns and seven orphans trapped by Apaches. In charge of the group is 76-year-old Sister St. Agnes, who believes that Nat has been sent by God to save them. Nat's unwillingness to be the heaven-sent rescuer is no match for Sister Agnes's unshakable faith and God's pushing and shoving. Heart-wrenching and heartwarming, yet never maudlin, this debut is highly recommended.-- Sister Avila, Acad. of the Holy Angels, Minneapolis
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
YA-Fleeing through the territory of New Mexico, Nat Swanson tries to stay ahead of the three riders who want to hang him for killing their friend in a Texas fight that Nat feels was fair. Passing by two overturned wagons surrounded by about 30 Apaches, he feels compelled to help the elderly woman he sees hiding behind one of the wagons. Told by Sister St. Agnes that he has been sent by God to save them, Nat quickly wishes he were continuing on to California, especially when he realizes there are a total of three nuns and seven children to be rescued. The sister's absolute belief that this man will save them places a burden on Nat that he's never before felt; it also forces him to act beyond his normal expectations as he attempts to pull off a miracle. While the Apache warrior Locan dreams that everyone's fate lies with water, the lifeblood of the desert, the besieged group seems doomed to die of dehydration. In a chilling, turnabout ending, Locan's dreams come true. Nat, a nonstereotypical loner, is juxtaposed against curmudgeonly old Sister St. Agnes, who is filled with love and faith. This is a good Western yarn that also happens to be a first novel.-Pam Spencer, Thomas Jefferson Sci-Tech, Fairfax County, VA
The publisher seems to have a hot property here. The movie rights were scooped up by Universal, Larry McMurtry is writing the screenplay, and Ron Underwood ("City Slickers") will direct. The release of the film, to be retitled "The Standoff", will no doubt generate demand for the book, but don't expect the novel to draw a crowd on its own. The tale--a pastiche of recycled characters and plots from other properties--concerns Nat Swanson, who is on the run from a self-defense shooting when he happens upon three nuns and seven orphans under attack from Apaches. He kills while Sister Agnes prays. To her, he's an answered prayer; to him, she's just a person in trouble. At any rate, the Apaches don't have a chance, and neither do the bad guys on Swanson's tail. The story is equal parts "Lilies of the Field", "Shane", "Hondo", "Two Mules for Sister Sara", and "Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison". First-novelist Eidson is president of a PR firm; obviously, he knows what sells. Now if Universal can just get Costner to play Nat . . .