The master of amiable, easygoing westerns (Boone’s Luck, 2000, etc.) launches part one of the four-book adventures of a rich, noble, pleasantly debauched English family in the Louisiana Territory.
“Sin Killer” is one of the handles by which lanky, handsome, freelance explorer Jim Snow is known. Master of every skill known in 1830s Indian country, Snow is still uncertain how to deal with the stark-nekkid and headstrong daughter of an English lord he encounters when he himself is also stark-nekkid. Each had been bathing in a reach of the Missouri River prior to the cute-meet—he because that’s where he bathes, she, Lady Tasmin Berrybender, because she’d gotten muddy after drifting away from the steamboat hired by her ridiculous, philandering, filthy-rich father, Lord Berrybender. Tasmin is ripe for an amorous adventure and keen to get away from the rest of the Berrybenders. Understandably. Life on the steamboat with them would try anyone’s nerves. Her mum, Lady Berrybender, is a loud lush, and the Lord is a sort of Squire Western on steroids. He’s brought with him on his New World shooting-party an artist, a Polish gamekeeper, French governess, German tutoress, myriad servants, several Indians being returned home after a visit to the White Man’s president, and his current mistress, an ambitious cellist. Along also several of Tasmin’s quarrelsome younger siblings, so numerous that their names drift into numbers. Tasmin would love to trade all this chaos for high adventure with good-looking Mr. Snow in the America she has romanticized, but first she and Snow need to get past his lack of interest in her ceaseless questions and her indignation over his two wives back in Ute territory. When all wind up frozen in for the winter on the upper Missouri, Lord B. will have lost numerous digits, and several of the party will fall victim to an exceedingly grumpy Russo-Indian woman with spurious ties to the spirit world.
Tom Jones in the Wild West. More to come.