THE OUTCASTS. By Kathleen Kent. Little, Brown and Co. 322 pages. $26.

Showing the reader what life was like in another time and place is part of good historical fiction, but it should add to the story, not detract from it.

"The Outcasts" follows three post-Civil War Texas lawmen, the killer they're trying to catch and the killer's girlfriend, who has close ties to the lawmen.

Despite the myriad hardships and horrors the characters face - everything from state police officer Nate Cannon having be apart from his family to Lucinda Goddard's epilepsy and life as a prostitute to any of the many people killed - there is little emotion in this book.

The reader is not pulled in because the book is more like a fictional timeline than a story. It feels as if Kathleen Kent researched the area and the period, and because cancer, former Quantrill's Raiders, former slaves, laudanum addiction, a hunt for pirate gold, snakes, photography, trains and the KKK all existed then, well, they must be included in the book. It doesn't make for a good story.

"The Outcasts" never breaks the surface of any of its story lines. If it evokes any emotion at all in its readers, it would be repulsion, both for many of the characters and for the book as a whole.

Reviewer Carol Edwards is a freelance editor and farmer living in Marlboro County.