The idea of a deputy was an essential part of our view of the frontier, but largely disappeared from our cultural consciousness until the mid 20th century. Then, the institution saw itself rise from the ashes with two new deputies: Fife and Dawg. One served under Andy Griffith armed with only a single bullet, the other served under what appears to be a cartoonized version of Sam Elliot and was charged mainly with preventing the theft of “hamhocks” by other local anthropomorphized varmints.
In beginning of Victor Gischler’s “The Deputy”, part-time lawman Toby Sawyer appears to be shooting for the same mediocre bar as his aforementioned colleagues. He’s a young ex-musician who backed into marriage, fatherhood and his job. He smokes too much. He’s got a less-than-kosher relationship going on with a 17 year-old girl. He’s charged with guarding a corpse and he ends up screwing that up when he leaves the corpse to canoodle with said girl. He’s not someone I am predisposed to like. But, one night in Coyote Crossing, OK, all hell breaks loose and maybe, just maybe, he redeems himself...or as I like to call it, “pulls a reverse John Roberts”.
When I read this book, I did something I hadn’t done this side of Sweet Valley High...er, I mean The Hardy Boys: I read the whole thing in one sitting (the fact that my family was away gets the assist on that one). This taut piece of modern noir (the manliest of all fiction genres) pretty much has action from start to finish. The author creates a realistic character and manages to pull off the hardest trick of action-not making things too easy for the hero. Toby would hardly call himself a badass at the beginning of the story, but through a combination of luck, toughness, desperation and energy drinks, he comes out the other side. Also, watching him realize just how important his son is brought a misty sheen to this new father’s eyes.
The Rundown: This story comes across as a distant cousin of Die Hard, and that’s not a bad thing at all. Weapons used in this story include: gun, fist, coffee pot, squirt gun, ax, Peterbilt. If that doesn’t do it for you, limit your reading to “Eat, Pray, Love”.