I’ve never really been a fan of Westerns, either in print or on the screen. But that’s changing thanks to the HBO series Deadwood and the Elmore Leonard novel Valdez Is Coming. Both, of course, feature a clash between a villain and a lawman. The Valdez in Valdez Is Coming is the friendly and likable Bob Valdez, the part-time constable whose day job is stagecoach driver. (Nobody in town, with the exception of the Madam, knows that Bob Valdez used to be Roberto Valdez, a former member of the Army who was very adept as both an Indian tracker and a marksman.) When Valdez inadvertently plays a part in the death of a local man, Bob turns back into Roberto as he tries to make things right. Naturally, there is an ample amount of gunplay in this novel, as things build to a final showdown between Valdez and crime boss Frank Tanner. I love Leonard’s modern crime novels and this Western set in the late 1800s features those same characters, just one century earlier.