Lawman-Author Monty McCord Shoots Straight on Best Books

Monty McCord

Retired police lieutenant Monty McCord grew up riding horses and watching Westerns in Hastings, Nebraska. A native of the Cornhusker State, McCord loved Old West lawmen, which ignited his interest in police work, which later became his life’s vocation. McCord began his career at age 20 in 1974 with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office  and eventually joined the Hastings Police Department. In 1994, he graduated from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, an honor accorded to a select few each year.

Retired since 1998, McCord has been writing non-fiction since the late 1970s, including two history books about police cars, one on his hometown of Hastings, and another on the USS Nebraska. A regular contributor to history and police journals, McCord took the leap into fiction, authoring a 2009 audio book, Mundy’s Law: The Legend of Joe Mundy, which became a 2010 Spur Award finalist, and was released in 2013 by Five Star.

McCord highly recommends these five Western classics for your library:

1 Appaloosa (Robert B. Parker, G.P. Putnam’s Sons): The Jesse Stone series first made me a Parker fan. But when I read this one, it truly inspired me. I was hooked by the relationship and dialogue between Cole and Hitch. I’ve read many Westerns, but his seem so real, unapologetically real. And, the film was done RIGHT!

2 Wyatt Earp-Frontier Marshal (Stuart N. Lake, Houghton Mifflin Co.): In addition to a television series, this book fired my lifelong interest in the Earp Brothers. Yes, the facts are stretched, if not torn. Nevertheless, the author interviewed Wyatt, and this led me through all the great Earp books to Casey Tefertiller’s, which I think is the best.

3 In Cold Blood (Truman Capote, Random House): Arguably a masterpiece. Although he took some heat for the (not new) notion of a non-fiction novel, the book has stood the test of time. The true story of a Kansas farm family murdered in their beds in 1959 will not fade, which is obvious considering the number of recent books on the crime.

4 Breaking Blue (Timothy Egan, Alfred A. Kopf): One of my all-time favorites, this tells the true story of a modern Spokane, Washington, sheriff who investigates a truly cold case. In 1935, the marshal of a nearby small town was murdered and no arrests were made. The investigation that began as a university master’s thesis led the sheriff to find the killer in an Idaho retirement home.

5 Iron Men—A Saga of the Deputy United States Marshals Who Rode the Indian Territory (C.H. McKennon, Doubleday): I checked this book out of the library on numerous occasions until I secured a copy for my personal library. Iron Men boosted my interest in lawmen, especially the U.S. Marshals. Sadly, though, this 1967 book does not mention Bass Reeves.

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