This seventh volume of amorous, adventurous memoirs by the deplorable, inexhaustibly mischievous Sir Harry Flashman (the notorious bully of Tom Brown's Schooldays) has two distinct parts: there's his year as a Forty-Niner in the California Gold Rush (1849-50); and his year a quarter-century later with Custer (1875-76), climaxing at the battle of Little Big Horn. The novel opens in New Orleans with Flashman hiding out in marriage-minded Susie Willinck's posh whorehouse (along with Captain John Charity Spring, a moral gorilla wanted for murder). And when Susie closes up shop and heads for Frisco--where the real millions are to be made--Flashy tags along, promising wedlock and keeping silent about his wife Elspeth back in England (who has just come into a large inheritance). In Kansas City Susie and Flashy hire their own wagon train and set forth, as Flashy starts secretly working his way through Susie's score of employees. Attacked by Indians, the wagons make it to Bent's Fort--which is completely empty and mined to explode; later, Susie sets up a thriving house in Santa Fe. But Flashy is eager to be off, so he quietly sells his beloved whore Cleonie to a Navajo for $2,000 and rides off to El Paso--where the picaresque plot soon has him attending a massacre, being accepted into the Apaches, marrying the chief's daughter, befriending both Geronimo and mountain-man Kit Carson. Then, 25 years later, wealthy Elspeth, a globe-trotter, has Flashy bring her to America. And so Elspeth has an affair with Indian dandy Spotted Tail, while Flashy falls in with eye-patched Mrs. Candy and dallies with her on a paddlewheel up the Yellowstone. But who is Mrs. Candy, really? She's Cleonie--whom he sold 25 years ago! And now she's a Sioux spy who kidnaps Flashy--so he becomes the lone survivor of Little Big Horn, saved by his ""half-breed"" son. Will American readers find the Wild West milieu--which has been worked over in every which way by novelists--less enticing than those in previous Flashmans? Perhaps. But Flashy's the same rascal as ever, and Fraser (author, also, of last year's splendid Mr. American) shows no sign of tiring--which means that Flashman fans can dive into this new installment with the customary high hopes and low-minded expectations.