Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Reviews of Downriver, A Barnaby Skye Novel

Here are the assessments of one of my better Skye novels.

Downriver: A Barnaby Skye Novel (Forge, 0-312-87845-1)

[Starred lead review] Wheeler’s westerns just keep getting better and better.... This is the best of the Skye novels so far, an adventure mystery full of suspense, action, historical color and careful portrayals of men and women facing hard choices amid uncertainty and danger. Wheeler is a master of character and plot, and this novel showcases his talents at their peak.  — Publishers Weekly

Well-loved western writer Wheeler takes a big grip on the afflictions of the heart in each outing, as he does here in this 44th in over thirty years and the 12th in his Barnaby Skye series— which must be heading for the barn soon with Skye entering late middle age in chilly recent titles like Dark Passage and Going Home.... Is a damned well deserved hardcover reprinting of Skye’s early paperbacks originals a-borning? Let Forge paint Skye with a golden sunset.— Kirkus Reviews

Wheeler always does a masterful job of weaving Indian lore and culture into these stories... Teens who enjoy fiction about the Old West will enjoy this story and see how two people from diverse cultures facing hardships and dangers are able to make a life for themselves in a rapidly changing world.— School Library Journal

Wheeler turns in another stellar performance with his latest novel featuring the prickly mountain man, Barnaby Skye..... No one writes a mountain man novel like Richard S. Wheeler. His Barnaby Skye is a wonderful creation who is as real to the reader as the man next door, but a whole lot more interesting. I would recommend this book to anyone, be he or she scholar or general reader.— Roundup Magazine

An Assessment of My Life Work

Below, in numerous earlier posts, are review excerpts of my historical fiction, mysteries,  and other novels. Some reviews of my genre western fiction are not included here. In any case, genre western fiction is rarely reviewed at all. But there are assessments here of my substantive books.

I was hesitant to post this material, thinking that it would simply be advertisements for my books and life work, but what changed my mind was the realization that I'm nearing the end of my writing life, and an assessment is appropriate. In essence, I am creating in these posts a record of my writing life. The books are presented in no particular order.

I am writing one last historical novel, so far untitled, that follows an early vaudeville troupe through Montana and Idaho. I hope some day to add the reviews of that to this collection.

Reviews of The Fields of Eden

More verdicts about my work here.

The Fields of Eden (Forge, 0-312-87309-3)

It has become the author’s trademark to tell a vast historical drama through the eyes of multiple characters, and his skill at orchestrating massive movements is on display here.... Wheeler powerfully presents manifest destiny in action.— Publishers Weekly

Wheeler’s female characters who share the stage are all first-rate... The author skillfully weaves history with fiction, in some cases using actual players, such as McLoughlin.... “The Fields of Eden” is historical fiction at its best.— The Denver Post

Wheeler has written another solid historical novel with his usual seamless plot and superb characterization. One cannot avoid being caught like a fish on a line and drawn into his story. It is a gift he has.— Amarillo Globe-News

Reviews of The Honorable Cody

More advertisements of myself. This was an early venture with Sunstone Press.

The Honorable Cody (Sunstone, 978-0-86534-521-8)

Wheeler good-naturedly spoofs Buffalo Bill Cody and the many myths surrounding him in this clever take on the mustachioed millionaire who never believed his own press.... Wheeler’s many fans will not be disappointed.–Publishers Weekly

“The Honorable Cody” is a pleasure to read as Wheeler lets Cody’s heirs and friends and enemies duke it out. –The Great Falls Tribune

Yes, time has changed since Cody’s passage. But Wheeler’s book assures that the frontiersman’s show goes on in a revealing and engaging read great for old and new fans of Buffalo Bill. –The Billings Gazette

Reviews of The Deliverance, a Barnaby Skye Novel

More advertisements for myself. Here's the verdicts on one of my Skye's West novels.

The Deliverance: A Barnaby Skye Novel (Forge, 0-312-87844-3)

Thirteenth in the Barnaby Skye series, famed for its saddle-creaking realism and style tight as set type....Pages as strong as sun-hardened adobe. —Kirkus Reviews

Wheeler’s Skye is a much more well rounded character than one usually finds in western literature. He is intelligent, erudite, compassionate and self-aware. The thirteenth entry in the series is one of the most satisfying.— Booklist

Skye and Victoria together are dynamite as they roam a West so finely drawn by Wheeler that one could almost do without a roadmap when traveling. This is an all-around wonderful book.   –-Roundup Magazine

Reviews of Goldfield

More advertisements for myself. Here are some pleasant reviews of one of my early mining town historical novels, Goldfield.

Goldfield (Forge, 0-312-85819-1)

Mixing history and melodrama with fast-paced storytelling and frontier detail, Wheeler paints a vivid picture of life in a turn-of-the-century Nevada mining town called Goldfield.... Effortlessly shifting from one set of characters to the next, Wheeler weaves his multiple sagas into an effective narrative that is considerably enlivened by authentic period detail and various actual people... ‒Publishers Weekly

Wheeler’s forte is big, character-rich tales of the last days of the West, and this one-- his 29th novel-- is no exception.... He tells a crisp story that packs an undeniable punch-- as in this well-constructed large-scale American historical. ‒Kirkus Reviews

Wheeler offers a carefully researched and well-written saga of the last great gold rush in Nevada in the early 1900s. To the boom camp of Goldfield flock thousands of gold seekers.... All of these and more are vividly depicted by a master storyteller whose heart is obviously in the west. ‒Library Journal

But it is Goldfield itself that is Wheeler’s finest character. It is a dirty, noisy, bustling, conglomeration of gamblers, miners, whores, freighters, hucksters, con men, storekeepers, liars, and thieves caught up in a “get-rich-quick” hustle. It is a town of dreams come true and dreams lost. It is the archetypal western boom town where the strong flourish and the weak go broke, and Wheeler describes it with the quiet authority of a writer who knows his subject and the compassion of a man who understands dreams. ‒The Roundup

Reviews of Sierra, a Novel of the California Gold Rush

More advertisements for myself. Here are the excellent reviews of my favorite novel, Sierra. It won a Spur Award and sold well.

Sierra: A Novel of the California Gold Rush (Forge, 0-312-86185-0)

 With varying results, two young men seek their fortunes in California after America’s successful war against Mexico-- in another solid historical from the prolific Wheeler.... Absorbing and eventful, replete with authoritative details on the mortal risks, primitive conditions, and sometimes rich rewards awaiting those who joined the gold rush to California. ‒Kirkus Reviews
We experience the adventure of the gold rush, but we also feel its undertow: families left behind and never seen again, loves lost, fortunes not made. A wonderfully mutifaceted portrayal of pioneer life. ‒Booklist

In this tale of two men whose paths cross during the exhilarating California Gold Rush, Wheeler proves himself, yet again, a fluid master of the western.... The strange paths of these two men finally cross in the gold fields, where the precious ore is elusive and wealth is fleeting, but their love for the two women endures. No fool’s gold that, this is a deliberate examination of greed, dreams, and the human spirit. ‒Publishers Weekly

Wheeler has a long list of novels of the West to his credit and is a real master at capturing the history, atmosphere, and romance of 1850s California. This will appeal to readers of Westerns and general fiction alike. Recommended. ‒Library Journal

Whether read as an adventure story, a love story, or a riveting fictional account of a watershed event in American history, Sierra is an outstanding novel with crackling good dialogue and unforgettable characters. ‒The Roundup
Wheeler has mixed sound historical background into this tale of fortunes lost and won, of loves finally fulfilled, and too many wrongs left unpunished. Wheeler is an old hand at tales of our West. Sierra is his best so far.— Grand Rapids Press

This is an epic story of riches, greed, and love.... A riveting fictional account of a watershed period in American history. Richard Wheeler has come up with a prize winner.— Tulsa World