Reviewed by: Keith Foster
Swedes’ Ferry is a double-barrelled adventure tale, and author Allan Safarik lets loose with both barrels blazing. His novel has a cast of colourful characters, some based on actual historical people like North-West Mounted Police Commissioner Lawrence Herchmer, others fictional but very much imbued with the breath of life.
The search for a tall man who robbed a bank in Bismarck, North Dakota, killed the manager, and galloped away on a stolen powerhouse of a horse leads two Pinkerton detectives to Regina in 1894. There they try to enlist the aid of the imperious Herchmer, who proves unco-operative. Their break in the case comes from two attractive “spies” operating in a brothel above a Chinese restaurant.
The tall man is aided by Bud Quigley, an astute horse trader, who brokers the deal of a lifetime with James J. Hill, president of the Great Northern Railway and owner of the First National Bank that was robbed.
A ferry, operated by two Swedish brothers, plays a pivotal role in the tall man’s attempt to retrieve his hidden stash of $44,000.
With a background as a poet, Safarik has a flair for creating stark images, such as pant legs that “were frozen stiff as stovepipes.”
The novel has some rough language, which one would expect from such rough men as Jiggs Dubois and Frenchie, who have a personal score to settle with both Quigley and Leslie Simpson, also known as Tall Bob.
This historical novel, with its non-stop action, has more twists and turns than a switchback trail, and an ending that will knock your boots off.