By James Reasoner
Harper, June 1994
Buffalo hunter Cole Tyler used to ride with Jeb Stuart leading wagon trains across the West. Now he’s riding the very first train into Wind River, its cars packed with saloonkeepers and swampers eager to make a killing. It is a historical occasion, but no sooner does the train roll into town than mayhem erupts.
Within minutes, a prominent citizen lies dead on the platform. Within hours, Cole Tyler is buffaloed into wearing the marshal’s star. And within days, he is facing down thundering stampedes and a ruthless killer, as Wind River becomes a town with its own brand of justice.
This is the first in a series that ran for six books. They may carry a single author’s name on the cover but were actually written by James and his wife, Livia Washburn (who does get mentioned on the copyright page).
As Cole Tyler gets to grips with the idea of being a lawman, and being tied down to one town, so his life becomes more complicated, each bout of trouble leading to new challenges, each new arrival seeming to bring more problems with them, for instance cattle baron Kermit Sawyer and the young woman setting up a new cafe, Rose Foster.
The book is filled with colourful characters, many of who may be hiding something from their past or their real agenda. It’s these mysteries that drew me into the story and refused to let go until the end was reached. The story is well crafted and superbly paced, chapters often ending with a cliff-hanger or question that made it extremely difficult to put the book down before I discovered how things were resolved.
The main story thread of murder, and a couple of sub-plots are cleared up by books end, but one or two questions remain about certain characters that will have me reaching for the next book, Thunder Wagon, very soon as I’m eager to see what happens next.
Footnote: All six books in the Wind River series have just been released as ebooks.