Follow the Stone - John  Locke Think Donovan Creed without the trappings and set in the mid-19th century old west and you have Emmett Love. He’s embarked on a trip to ferry a mail-order bride and some hookers through wild country. He has a side-kick Shrub/Wayne who rarely shows himself but is always just a little ahead of the game. The book can be both poignant and hilarious. Another Locke winner.

Phoebe, the mail-order bride, encounters Emmet in the beginning. She’s from the East and on her way to join a prospective husband. Standoffish and arrogant, she adapts to the harshness of the journey, but maintains her optimism despite Emmet’s attempts to present a more likely scenario, a sod house instead of the fine wood one with porch she envisions. "Well, we'll see when we get there. I hope he's got a fine wood house, 'cause sod houses are fiercely cold in the winter, and scorchin' hot in the summer. And they leak like crazy whenever it rains, which ain't often enough. But when it does rain, it won't stop. As the water comes through the sod, it turns the dirt into mud, at which point you and your husband and kids'll be wearin' half the house on your faces and clothes.”

The portrayal of the Kansas prairie is harsh indeed. After Scarlett is gored by a bull, Emmet, Rose, Monique, and Phoebe attempt to carry her injured body to the nearest homestead where Molly and Paul Stone try to eke out a desperate living and they hope to find some shelter. Unfortunately she dies on the way and then it’s a matter of finding tools to dig a grave in the hard-packed clay. The few that they had were broken so they seek a hole to stuff her body, “Gettin' Scarlett's body deep enough into the hole to properly bury her required doin' things to it that'll keep me out of heaven for six lifetimes. I could only hope the good Lord would accept part of the blame for creatin' such a large woman and allowin' her to die near such a small hole. I'm not the sort to criticize, but it seemed like bad plannin' to me, and I might've yelled that comment skyward, or worse ones.”

And this after they had come across the grave of a child. Phoebe asks how the child might have died. "Cholera, typhoid, brain fever, and uncontrollable diarrhea are possible. But if I had to make a guess, I'd say this child fell out of a wagon and got crushed by either the ox or the wheel of the wagon that followed it. She stared at me. "That cannot be a common way to die on the prairie.""I'm afraid it's quite common," I said. She grimaced, closed her eyes tightly, and shook her head. "And not one of the diseases you"mentioned?" "No ma'am."She opened her eyes. "Why not?" I gestured to the open area all around us. No other graves."