A Good Man

Guy Vanderhaeghe. Atlantic Monthly, $24.95 (480p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2004-5
A brisk western turns introspective in Vanderhaeghe’s (The Last Crossing) latest when a rich Canadian man’s son tries to make good as a rancher in the Montana Territory only to have the locals turn against him. Rather than work for the Canadian government, Wesley Case spurns his father’s wishes and uses the last of his military pay to buy a ranch outside Fort Benton, in 1876 a rough frontier town facing a looming Sioux uprising after Custer’s last stand. From his new home, Wesley is well positioned to relay military information between Major Walsh, his old Canadian commander, and Major Ilges, the head of Fort Benton. In time, he crosses paths with the charming, outspoken Ada Tarr, the bored wife of a crooked frontier lawyer, and comes across old foe Michael Dunne, a Canadian farm boy who made good by spying on Civil War collaborators. Michael makes his living trading information in Fort Benton—and also admires Ada—and greatly resents Wesley’s intrusion. The collision of lives on the harsh edge between the wild and the settled, slow to unspool, finally pays dividends as Wesley finds himself torn between the community he’s invested in and a world he outwardly spurns but uses to his advantage. This tension draws out a potentially tedious journey of paper-shuffle politics into a cohesive high-stakes drama. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/17/2011
Release date: 12/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-0-7710-8608-3
Open Ebook - 978-0-7710-8612-0
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-0-8021-2080-9
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