Well-loved western writer Wheeler takes a big grip on afflictions of the heart in each outing, as he does here in this 44th in over 30 years and the 12th in his Barnaby Skye series—which must be heading for the barn soon with Skye entering late middle age in chilly recent titles like Dark Passage and Going Home (2000). So Wheeler has gone back to fill in his grotesquely ugly Mountain Man hero’s early years, this time in a story set in 1838. As ever, Mister Skye (as he insists on being called) is on a journey, now taking a 2,000-mile steamboat trip down the Missouri with his feisty Crow wife Victoria, to accept a job in St. Louis running a fur-trading post. Skye is a binge drinker whose wives (he has a Shoshone one as well, tender young Mary Quill Woman) must take over when his jug is uncorked.
Is a damned well-deserved hardcover reprinting of Skye’s early paperback originals a-borning? Let Forge paint Skye with a golden sunset.