Stewart, S.J. (Shirley J. Stewart)

views updated

Stewart, S.J. (Shirley J. Stewart)




Home—The Ozarks.




Western Writers of America.


Shadow of the Gallows, Avalon Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Beyond the Verde River, Avalon Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Outlaw's Quarry, Avalon (New York, NY), 2003.

Blood Debt, Avalon Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Fire and Brimstone, Avalon Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Gambler's Instinct, Avalon Books (New York, NY), 2008.


Writer S.J. Stewart grew up primarily in Kansas, but fell in love with the Southwest after she spent four years living in New Mexico. Although she now lives in the Ozarks with her husband, she still enjoys visiting the Southwest and makes a point of taking frequent trips to both New Mexico and Arizona. Aside from the beauty of the landscape, she is also drawn to the region because she considers it home to one of the most exciting periods in the history of the United States. Stewart has written a number of novels that take place in a Southwestern setting and during a wilder time in the nation's history, including Shadow of the Gallows, Beyond the Verde River, Outlaw's Quarry, Blood Debt, Fire and Brimstone, and Gambler's Instinct.

In Beyond the Verde River, protagonist Jake Lockridge sets out to avenge the murder of his uncle, but before he can, he must secure the treasure that his uncle's killers had been attempting to locate. On the way to the place where the gold is hidden, Lockridge plays rescuer to a series of people in distress. First he helps Ryan Decker, who has been robbed and stranded by the same men who attacked Lockridge's uncle, and then Alicia Sandoval and her brother, who are also in need of assistance. Lockridge's good will and compassion gain him a set of friends who back him as he fights off the outlaws and travels into the Mazatzals Mountains, to retrieve his uncle's gold.

Outlaw's Quarry has a rough-and-tumble feel found in all of Stewart's Southwestern novels. Shad Wakefield is determined to discover who killed his partner but, when he sets out to investigate, he learns that everyone assumes he himself is guilty of the crime. His boss, Luke Crane, is heading up the lynching party determined to bring him to quick justice. In reality, Jake Rumbaugh murdered Shad's partner, as well as the owner of the Craddock ranch. Shad finds himself pitted against Rumbaugh and half the town, as well as the reluctant Craddock family who believe him guilty of murdering their uncle, despite his efforts to rescue them from Rumbaugh.

Stewart's Blood Debt revisits Shad Wakefield, now intent on finding Toby Granger, the runaway son of his dying ranch worker Nat. While searching for the boy in northern New Mexico, home to a number of gold mining camps, Shad and his friend Abe Featherstone get caught up in a gold robbery and set out to recover the stolen goods. Wes Lukowsky, writing for Booklist, commented of the book that "Stewart supplies enough originality and storytelling skill to keep it moving at a crisp pace."



Booklist, February 15, 2006, Wes Lukowsky, review of Blood Debt, p. 56.


Avalon Books Web site, (February 2, 2008), plot synopses.

About this article

Stewart, S.J. (Shirley J. Stewart)

Updated About content Print Article