All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone, by John J. Jacobson

Lincoln Smith was born in the wrong time period. He would have done just fine as a knight in medieval Europe. I think he’d have been happy as an explorer, too. Being born just a few scant decades before the end of the nineteenth century, Lincoln laments that he was born too late to take part in the Indian Wars and the taming of the American West. He lives on a steady diet of dime novels and romantic literature that—along with his mother’s firm upbringing—leaves Lincoln a man out of time, looking for adventure in a place where the railroads haven’t made it yet. In All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone, a wild romp by John J. Jacobson, we see Lincoln finally find himself in the right place, at the right time.

Jacobsen wastes no time getting to the adventure. The first chapter begins with Lincoln’s mother attempting to school her son on poetry when bandits looking for revenge on Lincoln’s lawman father kidnap the pair of them. This early taste of danger does nothing to dampen Lincoln’s desire for battles. We see him grow up, always fighting against modernity, getting into one scrape or another until he finally decides that the only place for him is the French Foreign Legion. In the last year of the century, he boards a boat for Marseilles.

1888 illustration of a legionnaire by Henri Dodelier (Image via Wikicommons)

Things really get going for Lincoln once he arrives in Marseilles and meets two old cowboys from Montana, who rescue him from being pressed into a particularly unpleasant assignment with the Foreign Legion. The cowboys also want to join the legion, but only to get into the remote kingdom of Mur so that they can look for a lost treasure. Lincoln isn’t particularly interested in treasure. He just wants the manliness and romance of the Legion. His personal code of honor, however, leads him to join up with the treasure hunters because they also follow the code of the west. The trio travel to a different recruitment point so that they can get a plum post in Mur—but things start to kick off before the three can actually sign up. Before long, Lincoln is on a non-stop series of fights, schemes, treachery, and a soupçon of love after he rescues an ambassador’s daughter from bandits (although she is very firm that she was in the middle of rescuing herself).

Lincoln is the kind of person who things just happen to. No matter what his original plan is, we see Lincoln constantly swept up in plans to hunt treasure, foiling kidnappings, brawling, and more all over North Africa. Really, the action never stops. Jacobson’s novel captures the essence of the old adventures that Lincoln devoured as a boy but, thankfully, without the racism and sexism of those books. Jacobsen is also not afraid to embrace silliness. More than one character provides comic relief in the middle of the gunfights, wild saves, and sudden turns in the tide of battle. Once this book really started rolling, I loved every minute of this story. I couldn’t wait to see how Lincoln would get out of every pickle he landed in. This book was just pure fun.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss for review consideration.

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