Alloy of Law, by Brandon Sanderson
Alloy of Law is a book set in the same world as, but several hundred years after Sanderson's excellent Mistborn trilogy. It's part Western, part mystery, part fantasy. There's magic and gunfights and wisecracks. In some ways, it reminds me Joss Whedon's Firefly series, in that it's a fun, Western-inspired adventure. You can read Alloy of Law without having read the Mistborn books, but it's pretty cool reading a book where the history and religion of the people you're reading about are the people you've met and bcome friends with.
About the story: Waxillium Ladrian is a lord turned lawman turned lord again -- very reluctantly. As he attempts to supress his "uncouth" habits learned in the Roughs, fit back into society and repair his deceased uncle's damaged estate, Wax becomes intrigued with a string of seemingly impossible train and coach robberies. He is further pulled into the mystery when a friend from the Roughs - Wayne, who I might have little crush on -- comes to solicit his help. Although the story isn't necessarily deep and layered, it's a good mystery, with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing.
About the characters: the characters definitely play to some classic archetypes. Wax is the hero with integrity, a heart for the downtrodden, a strong moral code, and a sense of duty and loyalty. He is no stranger to heartache, and prone to conflicted emotions. Wayne is the guy with a rough past, but ultimately a good heart. He's funny and irreverant and doesn't seem to take things too seriously, but he's good in a fight and loyal to the end. Kind of the Doc Holiday to Wax's Wyatt Earp. Then there's the ladies: one who is blunt and forthright and Wax's best prospect at marrying into money to save his estate; and her bastard sister who is super smart, a little bit spunky, and in love with Wax. Oh, and let's not forget the woman from Wax's past, the one he loved who now haunts his present. Although I loved all of the characters, I will admit the villian didn't exactly leap off the page at me.
Bottom line: a fun read from one of my favorite authors.