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As he begins his investigation he finds out about the disappearance seven years ago of Jack Hooker, a suspected cattle rustler, a story none of the locals wants to talk about.Despite this Nick is convinced that somehow the mystery surrounding Hooker is tied into the present cattle rustling incidents. So begins the story that has more twists and turns than a sidewinder rattlesnake including ongoing questions about why Nick is running away from his past. This is a well written book with a likable protagonist and interesting characters he encounters during his investigation. There are lots of questions to be answered and the plot all comes together in a very satisfactory ending. This is a damn good modern day western that is highly recommended.
After Nick DeNunzio uncovers corruption within the Baltimore police force, in the process killing a Baltimore cop in self-defense, he resigns his detective position with the department to travel aimlessly in the western U.S. He hopes to outrun both the death threats he's received by betraying dirty cops and his guilt over the murder of one of his informants. Circumstances work against him, however, when a Sheriff's Deputy in the fictional Coldwater County, Wyoming arrests him for armed robbery. County law enforcement checks his background and quickly the news spreads, as it does in small communities.
Although the robbery charges are soon dropped when the actual perpetrator is captured, Nick feels more trapped than ever. His credit cards are nearly maxed out, and his car needs major repairs before it is drivable. A solution to his problem arrives in the form of three ranchers, who represent the county cattlemen's association. The association wants to hire Nick, provide him with a marginal place to live, a vehicle, a horse, and a small salary. In return, they want Nick to check into who has been rustling their cattle.
Nick can ride a horse -- he spent years on mounted patrol in Baltimore -- but he doesn't really want the job. He's no stock detective, and he knows nothing about rustling. The ranchers don't care. They care about his reputation as a straight shooting cop, about showing the members of the association they are doing something to discover the rustler, and scaring off whoever has been stealing their cattle.
Nick reluctantly agrees to the offer, and Most takes his main character and his readers off on a mystery trail that leads to murder, uncovering secrets of the past, and tutorials on rustling, cattle brands, branding, the Wyoming landscape, and ranchers and ranching life. The information is for the most part woven expertly into the narrative without losing the plot. It's also very interesting and, for the most part accurate.
If you want to know more about the modern cowboy -- working cowboy, not rodeo cowboy -- and enjoy crime novels, this book is highly recommended. Most keeps the plot moving along, even when Nick's fascination with the past and investigation are developing slowly, in the end many of the characters are more complex than they first appear, and the insular and history bound quality of many of Wyoming's rural communities are well portrayed.
The outcome is not expected or foreseeable and it is a good mystery. There are many pages of holding
your breath and not being able to stop reading. It has a lot of characters and keeping them all straight
was sometimes a challenge. I went back and reread the prologue after finishing the book and said "ah ha"
so pay attention to it in the beginning.