Ecco (Harper), May 2008, $25.95
In 1903, nineteen years old Mary Boulton calmly grabs her husband’s rifle and fires killing him. The widow knows she cannot hang around not because she fears the law, but her abusive brother in laws would enact vengeance in their vicious style.
Mary flees across wintry isolated Idaho and Montana while knowing in her composed gut they pursue her. On her trek, she reflects on her unhappy but thankfully short marriage exacerbated by the dead child. As her deep depression enables her to remain eerily unruffled, she meets people along the way. First there is the Frontiersman who admits creeping civilization makes him depressingly feel like an anachronism; then there is the Reverend who treats her like an adored daughter. There are others some not as kind towards the itinerant female especially after a mining disaster that the locals feel she caused by being there. However, the worst is coming as the brothers are nearing and the Reverend wants to change their relationship to that of more of equal partners.
An allegory of a way of life that seems all but vanished, THE OUTLANDER is an excellent historical thriller starring a strong support cast, a spirited lead female, and a vivid picturesque setting. Readers anticipate High Noon is coming, but it is the trip to the final showdown that makes for a deep look at early twentieth century America in a remote part of the northwest.