First of a series featuring Harry Starbranch, recently a homicide detective in Denver, now police chief in tiny Victory, Wyoming, and acting sheriff in Laramie--a job he hopes to win full term in an upcoming election. Maybe then his ex-wife Nicole will remarry him. As matters progress, though, it begins to look as if Harry may not live to see that day. The body of murder and rape victim Colleen McAfferty, 16-year-old daughter of widowed rancher Tess, has been found at their spread, along with missing livestock and the shotgunned body of drifter Ralphie Skates. Scanty evidence puts Harry on the trail of Bobby Snow, a rancher whose hidden sideline is cattle-rustling, big-time. Snow's minions vary only in degrees of viciousness and arrays of lethal hardware. Meanwhile, Harry's primary mission--to nail Colleen's killer--is complicated by Tess's determination to get there first. There's no joy for Harry either in the news that Jerry Slaymaker, a child molester and killer jailed in Denver on Harry's testimony, has been released on new evidence and is out for Harry's blood. There are multiple chases, afoot and in various vehicles, all over the wild Wyoming landscape. Verbal and violent confrontations abound. And the action is punctuated with Harry's cholesterol-laden meals, rivers of beer, lovemaking sessions with Nicole, and lots of fishing and fly-tying lore. The final resolution is satisfying but much too long in arriving. Bean has a nice, easy style and an appealing tough-sensitive hero. But his competent debut will be appreciated most by fans of the heavily macho shoot-'em-up genre.