By Rod Miller
Bonneville Books, 2011
After an attempted assassination, Governor Lilburn Boggs couldn’t prove who’d taken a shot at him, leaving the identity of his assailant a mystery. Twenty-five years later and after the passing of Gov. Boggs, Detective Calvin Pogue has been hired by the Boggs family to open this cold case and find out the truth about the assassin.
From Missouri to California and into the heart of the Utah Territory, Detective Pogue relentlessly seeks clues that lead him to the legendary Mormon gunman Porter Rockwell – who still isn’t making things easy for anyone.
This book follows a fictional investigation by Pinkerton Agent Calvin Boggs into a true assassination attempt. It seems many people believe Porter Rockwell to be the man who pulled the trigger, and Boggs’ trail to discover the truth sees him meeting and interviewing many people who really lived, for instance Brigham Young, and, of course, Porter Rockwell.
Rod Miller’s novel is very readable, and mixes the western with detective thriller stylishly. The book is made up of a series of interviews that capture the unique voices of those being questioned well. The interview with Rockwell is broken up and appears at regular intervals throughout the book, nearly all the chapters end with these segments.
This is not an action western, rather it’s a fascinating look at this assassination attempt, and at the Mormon wars. Both sides are given voice so as not to colour the readers’ judgement. Yes, there isn’t a clear conclusion, as there never has been, but the facts are laid out clearly, and the reader is left to make his/her own mind up. Having said that the book ends with a surprising final chapter that makes for an unseen and dramatic twist ending, but also, perhaps, hints at the way Rod Miller wants the readers’ decision to sway.
Of course any novel based on historical facts that have never been proved one way or another leaves the reader with more questions. Questions that have me interested to learn more about Governor Boggs and Porter Rockwell.
The Assassination of Governor Boggs is an entertaining and educational book that should be essential reading for anyone interested in Boggs, Rockwell, and/or the Mormon wars, or those who enjoy novels based on fact.
Also available as an ebook.