I'm always happy when a new western by Ed Gorman shows up on the paperback racks because I know I'm in for a good time. The title character of The Cavalry Man is Noah Ford, who was a spy and assassin for the North during the Civil War. It's fifteen years or so later, and Ford's a military investigator, looking into the theft of a sort of super-Gatling gun. The person who stole it is Ford's brother, who was also a spy and assassin during the war, but for the South. Ford locates the gun in the prologue, but before he can do anything about it, his brother is murdered, Ford himself is shot up, and the gun has disappeared. Soon after he gets out of the hospital, the four arms dealers who were to bid on the gun start to die, one by one. Ford has to figure out who's killing them and find the gun, not an easy job for a guy with one arm in a sling.
One thing I like about Ed's westerns is that there's always an edge to them, a tinge of sadness and regret. A lot of his characters, including Noah Ford, have been damaged by life in one way or another, and they're just trying to get by the best way they can. And while this is a novel that deals a lot with character, the action and the plot certainly aren't negelected.
There are other things I like about The Cavalry Man, too. For one thing, Ed's writing is always a pleasure to read. And then there are little touches like this one, when Ford is explaining that he likes drinking cold coffee: "I got used to drinking it cold in the war. Had a friend named Daniel Port who preferred it that way."
If you like westerns or mysteries or both, check it out.