Tony Hillerman wins award from his peers and is enormously successful on the best-seller lists. With this work, he demonstrates his capacity to persuade a number of his equally notable peers to step outside their familiar bailiwicks and try something new. In this collection, Rex Burns delivers a character who has a voice quite distinct from Gabriel Wager, and D. R. Meredith not only presents a new voice but also alters the gender from that which readers have come to expect. Harold Adams retains his South Dakota locale, but adopts a more contemporary time line, and the connection with his traditional protagonist is indirect. Only William J. Reynolds retains the essential essence of his novels, although even here the reader will be pleasantly surprised.
This is a collection of suspenseful stories, not all of them are mysteries as such, nor do they involve detectives, hard-boiled or cozy, but every taste is satisfied and more. Obviously, a reader will find some of the tales more to their liking than others, but none of the entries in this group will produce total disdain. Indeed, aficionados of the genre will wish to keep this volume at hand as a ready reference to a series in the making. Despite the collection’s overall quality, one might quibble over its contents in one respect. The stories contained herein presumably illustrate various facets of the American “West,” but Minnesotans never consider themselves western, and only South Dakotans west of the Missouri River are so inclined. Geographic quibbles aside, this book is a keeper.