REX BURNS “Dust Devil.” “Snake” Garrick #1. First published in The Mysterious West, edited by Tony Hillerman (HarperCollins, 1994). No record found of a later printing.

   And likewise no record found of a subsequent appearance of Boulder-based PI “Snake” Garrick. The story is too short to get more than a general sense of who he is as a man, save for the description provided by his client in this story. She says to him:

   “I thought private detectives were supposed to be big and tough. You don’t look no wider than a fence post. Not much taller, either.”

   Snake may have been a lightweight in her eyes, but he’s smart enough to solve the case he agrees to take on in only eighteen pages. It seems as though the woman’s brother sold a horse named Devil Dust to a fellow rancher the day before he died in an auto accident. The woman cannot now find any trace of the transaction in the dead man’s papers, but the man who has now claimed the horse has a signed invoice for it.

   The detective story is a minor one, but it’s well made up for by the the several picturesque passages Burns uses to describe the largely untrammeled grassland area in which the smallish city-town of Boulder. Colorado, is located. I’d like to read more about the cases Snake Garrick has worked on, but alas, this one’s all there is and probably will be.