Forever Sheriff (The High Mountain Sheriff Series)

Written by Edward Massey
Review by G. J. Berger

In 1905, 18-year-old Mark Willford Simms follows his sheriff father and grandfather to become deputy sheriff of Coalville, Utah. Over the next 20 years, riding in the saddle for days gives way to mere hours driving by car. Cattle rustlers become crooked meat packers. Prohibition and the Spanish flu both take hold. More routine events challenge Mark: a teenage alleged cattle thief shot dead, a suspicious drowning, a peculiar railroad crossing death, and an old man dying on an easy day hike. The book incorporates a family tree to help sort out the Simms family relationships, including our hero, who is variously called Wil, Wilf, Willford, Mark Willford, Deputy Simms, and Sheriff Simms.

Massey’s affection for the land and knowledge of its history is evident. His prose fits the time and place. He avoids the common Western genre storyline of strong lawmen bringing outlaws to justice. The sheriff father and son hardly solve every major crime on their watch. This is, instead, a character study of courageous men and women helping family, friends, and Coalville’s people during the taming of the Old West.