Monday Malone is the sole lawman in the frontier town of Warbonnet, Wyoming Territory. When his brother is framed for the murder of one of Laramie’s “soiled doves,” Malone turns to Kate Shaw, the brainy Warbonnet schoolteacher, for help in tracking down the real killer. After all, she had already helped Monday solve one murder.
Robert Kresge, a former CIA senior intelligence analyst, is also the author of Painted Women. This Western murder mystery is the sequel to his Murder for Greenhorns, which featured the team of Malone and Shaw. I haven’t read Greenhorns, but it wasn’t needed before reading Painted Women. Kresge’s picturesque yarn is entertaining and presents the reader with a fine whodunit to solve.
Formerly a Texas cowhand, Monday is now a fine sheriff, tough enough to survive a stampede and clever enough to single-handedly capture two criminals in the backwoods. He’s a little sweet on Kate but is also a gentleman who can handle Laramie’s painted ladies and fend off a rancher’s forward daughter.
Though Kate might seem like the typical smarty-pants schoolmarm, fear not. She’s no stereotype. The engaging Ms. Shaw fibs her way onto the Hayden expedition’s 1871 survey of Yellowstone as one of the artists recording those natural wonders for the rest of the world to see. She sketches alongside Thomas Moran, and toys with posing for another of the painters in a canyonside tableau – au naturel.
Painted Women is an enjoyable story with lively characters, a quick pace, and plot twists which keep readers guessing as Monday and Kate pursue the cold-blooded murderer who will do anything to cover his tracks.