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by C.M. Wendelboe

Pub Date: Jan. 17th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-4328-3728-0
Publisher: Five Star

Wendelboe turns from the contemporary American West (Hunting the Five Point Killer, 2017, etc.) to the Depression era to kick off a new series that packs the U.S. Marshal for Wyoming off to Oklahoma in pursuit of a murder suspect.

Even though there were plenty of witnesses, it’s still not entirely clear how Shoshone rancher Selly Antelope got himself shot at a barn dance outside Ethete. What is clear is that Southern Arapaho Amos Iron Horse, the presumptive shooter, has gone missing and that his Northern Arapaho wife, Catherine, tells Marshal Nelson Lane with grim satisfaction that Selly—who’d followed up his threat to shoot any more of Amos’ cattle who broke through a frequently broken wire fence onto Selly’s land—“got just what he deserved.” Leaving behind the bad blood simmering between the Shoshone and the Arapaho, Nelson follows Amos’ trail to El Reno, Oklahoma, where he’s reportedly gone with his mysterious friend Whiskers and where felony murder is much more the order of the day. Canadian County Sheriff Tobias Stauffer, who fought for Germany during World War I, makes it clear that assisting Nelson is low on his priority list and announces that he can spare only one deputy to help him beard the locals: Maris Red Hat, whose deflowering by Amos years ago was only one step on the long road to her addiction to men and drink—the latter of which, as Nelson helpfully points out, is not only trashy but illegal under Prohibition. Stauffer is indifferent when Nelson is beaten and kicked and threatened with another dose if he sticks around; the only time he rouses himself to uphold the law is to arrest Nelson for the murder of one of Stauffer’s highly questionable underlings.

Lots of violent action tempered with hints of romance and cultural clashes and a climactic surprise, though much of it comes across as serviceable exposition in search of a strong throughline.