The Byrds of Shywater

Written by Paul Joseph Lederer
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

Twenty-year-old Jonathan Byrd, a fur trapper, is attending this year’s Rendezvous with his partner Calvin Gunnert. It’s the 1830s, and fur trapping is a lucrative business. But Byrd is disillusioned with the trade. He finds a location not far from the Rendezvous and builds a home for himself, where he can hunt and fish and live a solitary life. He names his new home Shywater. Three years later, his cousin Seth, an unsuccessful farmer who lives in Missouri, decides to take his family and head west with a wagon train, locate Jonathan Byrd’s homestead, and join him.

This is actually two stories in one, starting with that of Jonathan Byrd, while the middle of the book covers the story of Seth and his family. The characters and their interactions are well-formed and believable for the time period, while the author kept me interested in this fast- paced story until its unexpected ending. A well-written western that I highly recommend.