I loved this book! What a great story. The author brings you into a world from days gone
by with such ease and finesse to detail it was almost as if I was there. Truly a great
writing talent. I highly recommend this book if you are seeking an adventure and drama.
~ Steve Carroll Whitaker
WOW, what an adventure and how truly true to life written. I could just see all of this
taking place and loving all the humor and emotion and sure hope I here more from Mr. Massey.
He writes with such clarity and expression that if you do not enjoy reading it that is your
~ Joyce M. Mills
Two Remington Western prints hung in my bedroom as a kid. Always fascinated me. Spent
countless hours reading about the history of the West, its heroes, bandits, treks, and
pioneers, and still more hours reading the novels of L’Amour and Grey, McCarthy and McMurtry.
Fell in love with the West’s geography, its “wide open spaces”, the miles with just plain
nothing but the land, the heroes, who brought the bad guys to justice. Visiting the West as
an adult, I found my fascination well-justified. Recently I had the chance to update my
affair with the West in Edward Massey’s Every Soul is Free. Everything that ever attracted
me to the West was there. The reliable, steadfast, true to his principles lawman, the open
spaces, the selflessness, the pioneering families and spirit which survived into the 20th
century, and the willingness to take risks for the good of the community. It was all there
and a great read.
How far does duty drive a man?
Sheriff Simms must find out in this second novel by Edward Massey. He must choose between his
love for a man he raised as a son and the traditions and Simm’s heritage as the third generation
of law men in his family. Set in the high mountain country of Utah and Wyoming against the
background of almost 80 years of Mormon settlement, Massey skillfully weaves in vignettes
illustrating the history and unique societal issues driving this community. As a semi-professional
historian, I must admit that I learned as much or more from this excellent novel than all the
specialist books on the subject I have read over the years. All this and a riveting story thrown
in as a bonus!
These elements are skillfully woven into Massey’s narrative without breaking its flow. By the
middle of the book, I feel that I know every character and why they behave the way they do.
The “foster” son has in fact committed a grievous crime in Wyoming, for which he has been
jailed by Simms. The plot unfolds when an incompetent group of Wyoming deputies take custody
to bring him from the small Utah mountain town back to Wyoming to stand trial. The story
unfolds from the miscreant’s initial escape, through to his final apprehension.
Sheriff Simms believes that it is his duty to constitute a posse to recapture the escapee. This
process unfolds against the background of Thanksgiving weekend, which further complicates matters.
For example, this interrupts important family matters as Sheriff Simms tries to pass on the
essentials of what it means to be a man to his 6-year old grandson, who is being bullied by an older boy.
One item that the author does not explain is why the armed Wyoming deputies do not track the
unarmed escapee who is fleeing on foot through fairly deep snow. One would assume that an
obvious trail would be created. All the deputies do is tell Simms of the escape and then
return to Wyoming. Never underestimate the drawing power of Thanksgiving Turkey!
When Simms and his posse take up the chase, the escapee has a substantial head start. But
Sheriff Simms is convinced that he knows where their quarry is headed. He does not explain
his reasoning to the posse, which leads to the grumbling one would expect. The interception
effort involves travel by truck, horseback as the posse moves farther into the mountains and
finally on foot through the snow towards where Simms expects to find his quarry. The conclusion
is swift and startling.
All in all, Massey has created a fascinating yarn, one that is well worth reading.
~ Peter von Braun
I admit I read very few books, but I recently received a copy of Every Soul is Free as a
birthday gift. I thought what the heck, I’m due to read a book. I’m glad I did because it
took me back to my roots, and reminded me what is really important in this life. Sheriff
Simms reminded me of my dad, who was a simple, honest, hard working man who showed his
loving compassionate side by his actions, not words.
Thank you for reminding me of my life growing up in a small town in the mountains, but most
of all what a good man my father was.
~ Bill Crews
I have never reviewed a book before so I am not certain of what to write. This book brings
back the days when integrity and values were important. Money was not the driving factor
and family and friends were important. The descriptions of the mountains, the snow, the
wind, etc. almost made me cold! I could picture exactly where they were, and I have never
been in that area of the country. Also the history that was blended in was interesting. A
great story teller.
~ Merepoint (Maine)
Much more than a very well written story about a manhunt in a snowstorm. The reader gets to know
the characters as individuals, each of whom provides a vantage point from which to consider the
underlying theme: to what extent is a person really free to choose his (her) life and what he’ll
be? The question reverberates after the story ends.
~ Roy Regozin
This is a wonderful story of the chase into the snow covered Western uplands of a once favored and clever boy who is now a hardened grown man, murderer and fugitive. When the boy was young, the sheriff acted as a defacto step farther and mentor to him. Despite the sheriff’s stern love and good example, the boy turned mean. Now the sheriff, old and ailing, must leave his Thanksgiving dinner table surrounded by three generations of his family, put on his winter coat, kiss his worried wife good bye and head into the mountains where a younger and stronger man awaits him. I will not reveal the final scene between the sheriff and the fugitive. You will find it dramatic and captivating.
The chase is set in the high Rockies and in the Mormon community in the valley below where the sheriff and his father and grandfather have been protecting the people for three generations.
The interweaving of geography, modern rural Mormon life and Mormon history gives the chase context and meaning. It is hard to imagine this kind of chase and this kind of people in a different setting. For example, the depiction of what may be called old fashioned values and restrained and undemonstrative but responsible personal relations, so unfashionable today, is very well done and gives a uniqueness and reality to the story.
Generations of Sheriff Simms keep the high Uintah Mountain history very much alive passing down family and frontier legends. I particularly liked the stoic pioneer vignettes, laced with sheriff Mark Simms' musings of a not so distant (1800s) and the more present(1948)rough west, painted with scenic landscape descriptions and knitted together with great lines of Morman folk wisdom..... "Trial is virtue...tribulation builds your testimony." "Those beliefs were passed on in the blood."
Mr. Massey's easy and fluid prose supports the themes of truth, responsibility and plain living......"I made the life that was mine to make."
This well constructed story builds slowly, moving back and forth between three generations of Simms sheriffs as a colossal snow storm gathers force culminating in a final showdown, fulfilling the destinies of sheriff Simms and the fugitive he needs to pursue.
Curl up and enjoy this great read in front of a warm fire, the chilling 11,000 foot trek up the mountain to catch a killer will have your teeth chattering.
~ Mickey Peniston
I congratulate Ed Massey on a fine piece of historic story telling. Many readers born as
I was in the West, will have personal memory of the places, dinner tables, towns and forests
he writes about. We all knew people from our own childhood just like his principle characters,
both the good ones and the not so good ones. (not our families, perhaps, but people we knew of).
It is easy to imagine being part of every scene.
The reader will love the authentic language and the depiction of simple people living inevitably
hard, but not necessarily tragic lives. Those folks had their deeply held societal rules, moral
codes, personal values and their humanity; Massey’s book makes a case that their solid world-view
came more from a true-grit pioneering spirit than exhortations from the religious leaders of the
day. Those earliest settlers created a social system based on survival, generating an ordered
structure of respect, authority and responsibility that survived generations. Regrettably, only
few of those that descended into our generation have re-discovered, remembered or chosen to live
by this pioneer coda, or value enough its part in our heritage. All those with a Western heritage
will enjoy Every Soul is Free.
~ Robert Whitby
Every Soul Is Free tells the story of a posse’s manhunt for an escaped prisoner in the Uintah
Mountains on the Utah/Wyoming border in the late 1940s. The protagonist, Sheriff Simms, is a third
generation lawman who embodies the independent and pioneer spirit of the West. A strong, self-reliant,
decent man who has spent his life doing the right thing, the Sheriff is more than just a lawman; he
is a teacher of men. Yet his dedication to his job and his duty has been a source of suffering for his
wife and has kept his own children from internalizing the values he teaches and lives. Even more
difficult is the fact that the escaped prisoner is a man whom he raised as a son and whose family’s
history is closely entwined with his own.
The author uses the posse’s trek through the mountains to recount the trials and tribulations of the
original Mormon pioneer settlers of the area and the Sheriff’s eventual confrontation with his own
successes and failures and, finally, with the escapee and his own past. As in his earlier work,
Telluride Promise, which touches on similar themes of frontier justice and independence, Mr.
Massey provides wonderful descriptions of the hard men and women and the trying conditions they
endured in settling the American West. All in all, a superb depiction of pioneer lives and values
and a well written, informative, intriguing, and exciting read.
~ Edward Eggert
It has been quite a while since I picked up a book and did not want to put it down. It was only my
aging eyes and brain that finally succumbed to sleep; otherwise, I may have read until the morning
as I used to do, to finish this one.
Ed Massey has crafted a tale – a real-life-type tale. Because I am so familiar with the where of this
novel, it was easy to relate to the various settings. To me, the accurate description of the places in which
the book is set, immediately reveals the artistic and historic integrity of the author, and the story, then,
is off and running, literally!
The sheriff in the story is so like my own father in his quiet, introspective manner; I sometimes chuckled,
and sometimes had to stop and wonder if he was reading over my shoulder. The storyline is predictable to some
extent, but is so enriched by the accompanying characters and experiences that it is skillfully fleshed-out
with a wealth of pertinent parallel tales.
I see by the description that the book is listed for youth. That is great and I agree – but I highly
recommend it for adults, especially for those of us who are either nearing or are firmly ensconced in the
retirement years. It is well-written, leaves a question or two to keep our attention, and should not be the
last book written by this author. He writes with restraint and insight, and lays a rich foundation for story.
What fun to find another author in the mode of writing that appeals to me.
Keep writing, Edward Massey!
Every Soul is Free takes place in Utah on Thanksgiving 1948. The characters are of that era and the
contrast with the society of 2014 could not be more compelling. This is a lovely reminder of an earlier era
and the truths we would hope to teach our grandchildren. This is a thoughtful book, as evidenced in the title.
~ William D. Huhn
I just finished reading Every Soul is Free and I miss Sheriff Simms already. It was a privilege to journey
with a man grounded in his truth. A man who embraces the life he was born into and the responsibilities he
chose to accept. He knows who he is, he knows his duty, and he fulfills it without complaint. How refreshing!
Sheriff Simms was a man of his time and place. Edward Massy is a gifted storyteller who brings that time and
place in the American West to life. The men and women whose lives are interwoven in it’s fabric are well
crafted as they play out the hands they are dealt. Pick up the book, meet Sheriff Simms, and enter a world
both genuine and rare. It’s a darn good read!
~ Inese Kaufman
Massey built the tension adroitly by shifting back and forth from the posse to historical context / events.
By the end, it was nail-biting time. Did Simms get Hixson with his shots or did the deputies come in with
the wind? Or was that the avalanche? I would like to know what happened to the deputies. The ending with
Butch was effective: the inherent tension and disparity between the job and family and the results of
things left undone. Simms, the main character, was fully drawn as he had both strengths and weaknesses.
The lesser characters were also well-rounded. The folk wisdom and philosophy were well-done, but would
have still worked with a little less. Kudos. Keep moving forward with the series.
~ Geoffrey Craig
I very much enjoyed this book, and I strongly related to it as my ancestors also traveled across the plains.
Massey has a strong command of language, painting vivid pictures when describing the scenery and setting.
~ Amazon Customer