Book Report: Sheriff Without A Badge by James R. Wilder (2021)

Book coverI got this book at ABC Books in June 2021 when it must have been fresh off of the presses. Heaven knows that it had numerous typos in it, but that did not really impair my enjoyment of it. This series–I’ve already read Terror Near Town and Tough Times in Grubville–has rather grown on me.

This book takes place right after the events of Tough Times in Grubville. Chet Harbison has taken the deputy sheriff’s position in Jefferson County, but he gets a field promotion when the current sheriff has a heart attack and can no longer run the department. He stands for election and narrowly defeats a DeSoto barber / county commissioner, but as he learns, politics ain’t beanbag. He has to deal with a near-lynching of a pedophile held in his jail along with attempts to paint him as corrupt.

The book, like the others, is more of a Western in the Louis L’Amour tradition than a mystery, although the cover says they’re “A Harbison Mystery”. You get a fair amount of detail in raising cattle and farming during the Great Depression than a whodunit, but that suits me fine.

As I mentioned, the book has some typos in it, which lead to some false positive ackshuallys on my part. It mentions the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and I verified that the Post-Dispatch papers were combined before the 1930s. It mentions Eagan’s Rats, and I thought, aha! I’ve got you now because I know the St. Louis gang was Egan’s Rats, but apparently the first mention was a typo as the secon mention spells it correctly. There’s a spot where he mentions a quarter mile hike into the woods that might be taxing to an old doctor, and I was going to call that out, but then I recalled when my elderly friend “Roberta” came to Nogglestead, and we went to the Battlefield Park for its Independence Day festival, she had trouble with far less level ground. I am a little less forgiving in him saying that someone is going fishing for perch. Perch, as native Wisconsinites know them, are not found in Missouri. Not walleye, not yellow perch. They have a couple species down here classified as perch, but they’re not really the eating fish we know up north.

Still, I liked the book, the pacing, the style of writing which is more Hemingway than Faulkner (or L’Amour) suit me well. I bought the fourth book in the series last August, and I will probably pick it up before long. And probably before I have to go to ABC Books to buy newer entries in the series.

I’ve also decided to pick up one or more of these books for my brother for Christmas. So don’t tell him if you see him.

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