[A Pistol in Greenyards is a] tale within a tale: the first an evocation of an 1854 estate eviction (Highland Scots), the second a frame for writing the experiences…. The duplicity of landlords, the cruelty of the law and its enforcers, the vitality of those who must defend a way of life—all enfolds in scene after scene of dramatic confrontation, and it is no mean achievement that the use of a gun for self-defense and protection of family is understood but discouraged. Whether a fifteen-year-old youngster in those circumstances could be so articulate (and literate) with only six months separating him from the events matters little; what emerges is a vivid recounting strengthened by personal reflection and subsequent distancing.
"Older Fiction: 'A Pistol in Greenyards'," in Kirkus Service (copyright © 1968 Virginia Kirkus' Service, Inc.), Vol. XXXVI, No. 1, January 1, 1968, p. 13.