Rough luck plagues mountain man Barnaby Skye in this fourteenth installment to Wheeler's colorful Skye's West series (The Deliverance, etc.). Once a British seaman, Skye is a hunter and trapper in 1850s Yellowstone country, where he lives with his wife Victoria, a Crow Indian, and her people, the Absaroka. When Victoria is horribly injured in a Blackfoot raid, Skye stays behind to nurse her after her people depart. The miraculous appearance of two horses provide transportation out of wintry Blackfoot territory, but traders rob Skye's rifle and kit, and he returns to the Absaroka a pauper-and with horses they consider a bad omen. Exiled, Skye is tricked into working for a ruthless gang of fur traders who bilk the Indians for their valuable buffalo hides, doling out rotgut whiskey as payment. During a disastrous drunken trading exchange at Victoria's village, Skye is forced to act as translator, leading the Indians to blame him for their misfortune. Skye is once again an outcast, but vows revenge on the traders. In what may be the best Skye's West novel to date, Wheeler deftly balances the violence and brutality of frontier life with the love and tenderness of a husband and wife caught between cultures.