cover image Iron Star

Iron Star

Loren D. Estleman. Forge, $29.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-250-89251-5

In this captivating sequel to 1983’s Mister St. John, Estleman (the Amos Walker series) delivers a top-notch western that deromanticizes its own genre. In 1926, former Pinkerton operative Emmett Rawlings has retired to Minnesota to focus his energies on publishing a history of the detective agency. Though Rawlings received permission from his boss for the project—and already spent the advance—the agency’s attorney has threatened legal action if he proceeds. Desperate for cash, Rawlings accepts an invitation from flailing western movie star Buck Jones to collaborate on a film about Rawlings’s old colleague, Deputy U.S. Marshal Iron St. John. Twenty years earlier, St. John published a tight-lipped memoir, but Jones knows there’s more to the story, and Rawlings might be the man to tell it. After all, he accompanied St. John on his final manhunt: the pursuit of the fugitive bank-robbing Buckner gang. Hoping to turn Rawlings’s recollections into a rip-roaring screenplay that will jump-start his career, Jones instead learns that the Old West was grittier, less heroic, and quite a bit bloodier than he’d imagined. Estleman affectionately takes an axe to the tropes on which he built his career while delivering a gripping story in its own right. This finds a crime fiction legend working in a delightful new register. (June)