I have long admired the writing of James and Livia Reasoner (Livia, of course, known professionally by her L.J. Washburn nom-de-plum). I have also envied them the husband-and-wife relationship that has spanned so many happy years of marriage and produced such an impressive body of work—two wonderful daughters being at the head of that list.
One can imagine that a certain amount of collaboration, or at least some back-and-forth critiquing, probably goes into almost everything either of them writes. But for a particular series—the Wind River saga, covering six titles all told—their collaboration may have been as complete and thorough as anything they've done. Originally published as a set of paperback originals by Harper Collins, the intent of the authors was for the books to come out under a joint byline. As it turned out, however, the publisher insisted only a single name be used … that of James. This in no way detracted from the reading public's enjoyment of these fine novels, but it nevertheless was a disappointment to James and Livia.
Now, through the magic of eBooks, not only is this entire series available once again but this time it is appearing with both bylines—James Reasoner and L.J. Washburn—as originally intended.
The Wind River books are about as good as it gets in the Western genre. Centered around former Army scout/buffalo hunter Cole Tyler—who takes on the job of town marshal when Wind River is little more than a primitive outpost—the books follow Tyler as he grows as a lawman and a person and as the town grows and evolves around him. The stories are rich with action, a strong sense of time and place, and a wide range of colorful, memorable characters. Elements of drama, suspense, mystery, and even some Indian (the Native American kind) mysticism are to be found as well—all presented in the Reasoners' assured, skilled, clear and clean writing style.
It is recommended that the books be read in sequence, to best follow the carefully-plotted thread of the complete storyline. In order, the titles are:
WIND RIVER – THUNDER WAGON
WIND RIVER – WOLF SHADOW
WIND RIVER – MEDICINE CREEK
WIND RIVER – DARK TRAIL
WIND RIVER – JUDGEMENT DAY
Reasonably priced for Kindle and Nook, with beautiful new covers designed by Livia herself, this terrific series definitely belongs in your library of top-notch Westerns.
If you read 'em before, savor them again. If you missed them the first time around, don't make that mistake twice.
Persevere — WD