The Long Hitch
If you want to know about managing mule trains in the Old West, this is the book for you. In 1874, Buck McCready becomes wagon master of a mule caravan hauling freight from Utah to Montana in a race with several other outfits to win a valuable contract, and the book is packed with descriptions of hitches and harness, how to fix a broken wheel and bridge a deep ravine.
Evil competitors are out to steal the contract, and Buck battles sabotage as well as the harsh but beautiful country. Besides the race, the novel follows a mystery (who killed Buck’s predecessor and mentor?) and a love story (the country girl and the city girl). The local flavor is strong, with a lot of jargon, but Michael Zimmer has no narrative sense, and, worse, his hero Buck is one of these new, sensitive, self-doubting Western heroes, more J. Alfred Prufrock than the Montana Kid. Frankly I preferred the Montana Kid.