Sheriff Nelson Cook is attempting to keep order out on the fringes of civilization in the nowhere, “flea speck” town of Luther, Wyoming. Sheriff Cook is about to come into a nifty little windfall. It’s dirty money. Bribe money. He’s paid to look the other way. He’s fine with the deal. He could soon be wealthy.
Adam Sanchez, a Mexican-Comanche from the New Mexico Territories, had gone east to fight for the Union. But now he’s come west—to Luther—after leaving behind doe-eyed beauty Tess Buchanan. She’s the only daughter of a federal judge. Adam would change his ways for Tess. She’s the only one who could prompt a transformation, but she spurns him.
Cook and Sanchez know each other. Well. After the war, Cook and Adam “drifted from Pennsylvania and made a living selling things that didn’t belong to them.”
A grizzly-sized bad guy named Jesse rides into Luther and promptly kills the two brothers who had bribed Sheriff Cook. Jesse is arrested but suddenly Sheriff Cook—and Adam Sanchez—have all the stolen loot in the brothers’ possession.
Realizing that there might soon be others from Jesse’s gang coming to investigate what happened to their compadres and their loot, Cook deputizes Adam Sanchez. Cook sends for a judge to run a trial for Jesse who, after a fair amount of mayhem, is in jail.
At this point, Luther, Wyoming is only buckling its armitas There’s a robbery. A chase. There are crosses. Double-crosses. Explosions. A kidnapping. Deception. In Luther, the currency is trust but coins are scarce. Duplicity is a sport.
The judge who arrives to run the trial is the father of Tess Buchanan. Just to make things interesting for Adam Sanchez, Tess has come along, too. She can’t quite believe Adam’s upgrade from “wandering scoundrel to upstanding lawman … Tess remembered Adam was a bit of dandy even though he lived out of a saddlebag. Not surprisingly, as a keeper of the law with a permanent residence, he was well turned out. Pressed frock coat. Starched collar. Brushed hat. A recent haircut and shave. Polished sheriff’s star. For her part, Tess felt the sweat and grime of the journey from Cheyenne and imagined herself filthy as a horse blanket.”
Luther, Wyoming plops the reader in the saddle of a sprinting horse on page one and never lets up, as if the writers themselves were in full gallop as they drafted. Action. Reaction. And repeat. Written by Tomas Alamilla and Mario Acevedo, Luther, Wyoming has a Louis L’Amour throwback feel but it skews dark and violent at times with warped moments worthy of the Coen brothers or Cormac McCarthy. The writing is crisp and purposeful, with backstory dripped out like water rationed in a drought.
There’s collective frontier justice—a speedy trial and quick ramifications. And there’s heaps of individual, personal prosecution for a wide variety of affronts and crimes. For Adam, the question is whether to follow his heart, amid so much bloody chaos, or listen to his head and wonder if he can manage a woman who seems so accustomed to death. Don’t forget. He’s a bit of a dandy. Will Andy go legit? Come all the way clean? Tailor-made for a gripping sequel.