by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of The Western Star, and a link to purchase it from Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.
Back in 1972, Walt Longmire was not the wry, easy-going sheriff readers love today. Just two weeks of working under Absaroka County Sheriff Lucian Connelly had Walt questioning his choice of career, despite the pressure of having to support a new wife and upcoming baby. In his first year as president of the Wyoming Sheriff’s Association, Lucian was dragging along his rookie deputy for a sheriff’s junket on the Western Star steam train to Evanston. It sounded like the start of a bad joke; what do you get when you have 24 armed sheriffs, one deputy, a pretty woman, and too much alcohol? The answer is nothing good, as Walt finds himself knocked off the train, arrested, unarrested, and trapped on a locomotive with at least one murderer.
The events of 1972 are revealed as Lucian and Walt travel to Cheyenne to oppose the appeal of prisoner whose release Walt has opposed for forty years. When the governor’s wife begins to throw in roadblocks by using the press, even Walt’s closest allies question his refusal to budge. As the narratives switch between the past and the present, readers are shown the contrast between the naïve deputy and the far more jaded sheriff he would become. Walt’s humor is leavened by the gravity of the present situation, while in the past he finds himself in the midst of a possible conspiracy and encountering questionable mentors. So it’s fortunate that in the present day Walt is counseled by his daughter Cady, AKA the Greatest Legal Mind of Our Time, profane undersheriff Vic Moretti, and his quietly acerbic best friend, Henry Standing Bear. Only Lucian was also there with Walt as he encountered the case that would decide his career, haunt his nights, and forever change his life.
There is so much I want to say about this extraordinary novel. It is safe to say that readers are in for a unique twist on the locked-room, train murder mystery. As the train rockets to Evanston and back, Walt grows more confident with his observations even as he trusts his compatriots less. What remains constant throughout are the delightful banter between Walt and his friends, as well as the black humor shared by law enforcement officers. Readers are reminded that as compassionate and fair-minded Walt has become, there remains at his core a ruthless protective instinct for those he loves. The next installment of this series may herald in a far different Walt, one who is sure to be as compelling as he is unstoppable. I will be on the edge of my seat waiting to see who Walt becomes, and pity anyone who stands in his way.
To enter to win a copy of The Western Star, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “western,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 28, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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