"Big Earl" Stark earned his name and reputation as a stagecoach guard back in the day— and now, as Federal Judge Earl Stark, he is expanding that reputation and still living up to his name by cutting a big swath through the West and taking on big, action-packed cases. He dispenses his own unique brand of justice with a gavel in one hand and a LeMat pistol (capable of firing one shotgun blast and then nine conventional rounds) in the other.
I thoroughly enjoyed the three Big Earl novels (STARK'S JUSTICE, THE HAWTHORNE LEGACY, and THE DIABLO GRANT) that came out in the mid-90s and considered the character to be among Reasoner's best. Now it is a delight to have him back in action. And THE SILVER ALIBI is a fine entry in the series. Action, double-dealing, stubborn will and hot tempers, forbidden romance, and a strong dose of mystery — what's not to like?
(Aside: I ordinarily don't try to figure out the "whodunit?" part of a mystery story or novel. Number one, I'm not that clever and, number two, I'm usually more interested in the characterizations and interactions. In THE SILVER ALIBI, however, I smugly thought I had the mystery element all figured out about a third of the way through. But then James came along with a totally legitimate swerve that caught me flat-footed and off base by a mile. So, back to concentrating on the characters and the action for me — until the next time I get suckered in.)
Bottom line: THE SILVER ALIBI is a most welcome return for Big Earl and, one hopes, the impetus for more appearances soon. Fast-paced, engaging, well worth your time and money.