This is a mystery within a love story within deftly written frontier saga. Chamberlain’s language is as simple and clean and on-target as the rifles his protagonist and antagonist employ as the tools of their trade. And the technical details of his descriptions invest every scene with the clarity of a mountain stream. The tale spends much of its time in that ever-fascinating space between what is beyond the reach of the law, but still moral; between what is legally permissible and what is just. Still and all, it’s not a preachy morality play, but a story deeply enmeshed in the flesh and blood and emotions of some compelling characters whose conflicts and motivations make for mysterious twists that keep the reader guessing.
You might bargain for a western when you pick up The Long Shooters, but you’ll get a true novel that reaches beyond its genre into a league with the likes of A.B. Guthrie and his ilk.