Founding Sheriff (Five Star Western: High Mountain Sheriffs)

Written by Edward Massey
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

In 1865, Luke Simms is the sheriff in Coalville, located in Summit County of Utah Territory. At a nearby ranch, Fisk Scales murders his wife while she is in bed asleep. He then leaves the ranch in her grandmother’s buggy. Sheriff Simms eventually captures him. He wants to bring the man to trial, knowing that justice in the small town of Coalville is difficult. He is threatened with vigilantes led by the town marshal who want to hang Scales. There is also the threat of a possible Indian attack led by Black Hawk. Along with these issues, a hell-on-wheels has settled nearby, which introduces a new set of problems for the sheriff.

This novel is a prequel to Fugitive Sheriff which occurs in 1883. Luke Simms is a likable character as he attempts to keep a promise to the murdered woman’s mother. Unfortunately, the execution of Scales will take several years to accomplish. This character-driven story provides drama but little action. I did find it a pleasure to read, though, especially the interactions between the sheriff and his constituents as he tries to find closure for the mother of the murdered ranch woman.