The Return of Cavannagh


148 pages
ISBN 0-7704-1812-0





Reviewed by Karl Burdak

Karl Burak was a solicitor in North Vancouver, B.C.


This is exciting adventure. Corporal Cavannagh of the North West Mounted Police matches wits and daring with American annexationists, Fenian plotters, Missouri outlaws, gunfighters, Indian scouts — a formidable host of organized conspirators who would destroy the Mounted Police and see the American occupation of Canada north from the Montana territory to the Arctic Ocean. A grand plot, which focuses upon the tenuous hold that England then had upon the vast expanse of land that stretched north from the American border.

Cavannagh is a classic hero. He is loyal (although he adopted the Mounted Police after his resignation from the American cavalry) and he is of high principle, instinctive and adept at the skills of being a good policeman. His commitment to the Mounted Police and his strong sense of law and order push him relentlessly in pursuit of clues that bare the magnitude of a sinister international conspiracy and that bring him and a small force to a heroic confrontation with a ruthless gang of raiders who have moved into Canada to carry out a critical attack upon the Fort Walsh detachment of the Mounted Police.

This book is thoughtfully written. It is consistent in its setting, geographically and historically. Its characters are believably English, Scottish, Irish, Metis, American, and Canadian. It thrives upon contrasts. The reader moves with Cavannagh over the Canadian prairies to the American border towns and aboard the Missouri river boats. We see the traditions and discipline of the Mounted Police, we feel the disorder and strength of the American frontier, we live the pitched battles, and we mull the sophisticated schemes and intrigues intended to change the course of history.

This is the second book of Ian Anderson’s series, The Scarlet Riders. The author, who was himself a Mountie, writes in a setting familiar to him and brings this setting to life in a mélange of romance, danger, violence, intrigue, and history. The series is unique and fills a relatively empty space among the themes of western adventure. If Book 2 of the series is a representative sample, the series will be well read and profitably collected by readers who enjoy a consistent character able to prevail against formidable odds. There are many precedents of literary success founded upon a genuine, distinguishable hero in a special milieu. Cavannagh just may be such a hero.



Anderson, Ian S., “The Return of Cavannagh,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 10, 2023,