cover image Heaven Is a Long Way Off

Heaven Is a Long Way Off

Win Blevins, Author . Forge $24.95 (302p) ISBN 978-0-765-30576

Spur Award–winner Blevins adds this fourth volume to the developing epic of western mountain man Sam Morgan (last seen in Dancing with the Golden Bear ). Following a brief synopsis of the first three books, young Sam travels in 1827 with legendary trapper Jedediah Smith from the Rockies to the California desert. Sam pines for Meadowlark, his Crow wife who died in childbirth, and his missing baby daughter, Esperanza (who was kidnapped with his sister-in-law in the last book). Sam hopes to find his daughter, reclaim her and return her to his wife's Wyoming tribe. He barely survives a Mojave ambush, evades Mexican authorities who want him for homicide, has a torrid love affair with a beautiful Spanish widow, is exposed to the brutal Mexican slave trade and does a lot of his own killing. Although the plot (and conclusion) are predictable western fare, the action is sharp and exciting, and Sam's companions are colorful and eccentric, including Hannibal, a half-white and half-Delaware Indian man who speaks Latin and Greek, and Grumble, a talented con man with a trunk full of surprises. The pet coyote that rides a horse, however, is unconvincing. (Oct.)