The Long Hitch

Written by Michael Zimmer
Review by Cecelia Holland

 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.