A tinted review in adult Forecasts indicates a book that's of exceptional importance to our readers, but that hasn't received a starred or boxed review.
Wheeler's westerns just keep getting better and better. This is the 12th novel in the writer's Spur Award–winning Barnaby Skye series, chronicling the adventures of mountain man Skye and his Crow Indian wife, Victoria. Last year's novel, Going Home, had the hard-drinking, earthy, resourceful couple on the run from trouble in Mexican California. Six years later, in 1838, Skye and Victoria are on their way from the Rocky Mountains to St. Louis so Skye can compete for a wilderness job as a post trader with the powerful and ruthless American Fur Company. The journey will cover 1,500 miles by land and river and is fraught with peril and treachery. This time, however, Skye's enemies are not Indian warriors seeking a stand-up fight, but white men who have secrets, wealth and reputations to protect, and who prefer to lie, cheat and stab a foe in the back rather than look him in the eye. That is not the mountain justice Skye is used to, and he will have to learn new skills to survive in the civilized white man's business world. Complicating the trip is a Cheyenne Indian woman determined to find her white husband in St. Louis, not realizing he has abandoned her to marry a suitable white woman. A slick, manipulative Creole trader; a brutal, ham-fisted steamboat captain; and a likable whiskey smuggler add high drama to the trip. This is the best of the Skye novels so far, an adventure mystery full of suspense, action, historical color and careful portrayals of men and women facing hard choices amid uncertainty and danger. Wheeler is a master of character and plot, and this novel showcases his talents at their peak. (Dec.)