Fire in the Hole by Elmore Leonard, 240 pages
In this collection of nine short stories, Leonard offers up a handful of versions of classic Western tropes — the shootout, the sheriff, the cattle rustler, the cowboy — though not always in a Western setting. The sheriff's role is often played by U.S. marshals (Leonard's well-known characters Raylan Givens and Karen Sisco), there are plenty of tough women to be found, and every last story features whiskey and guns. My favorite is "When the Women Come Out to Dance," a story of Mrs. Mahmood and her maid, Lourdes, who have a peculiar relationship that takes an unexpected twist. I'd never read Leonard's work before, and this collection was a great introduction to his style and his characters.