Well, I found it on my own shelves this time around, where it has been patiently waiting to be read since I brought it home in 2002. It is a Larry McMurtry western called Sin Killer that turned out to be the first of four novels comprising McMurtry's "Berrybender Narratives." I remember starting this one once before and being pretty much underwhelmed by the characters and plot after wading through roughly its first twenty-five pages. And that's the way it started out for me again this time. But then suddenly, the characters all started to fall into place and I felt myself being sucked into the little world in which McMurtry had placed the Berrybender family.
From there, there was no looking back, and I raced through the book in two days. Sin Killer ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, and I couldn't wait to start on The Wandering Hill, the next book in the series. And that's where my "completist gene" paid dividends...all three of the remaining books in the series were right there on the shelf smiling at me because they knew they had me hooked.
I got through the first thirty-five pages this morning, resolving the cliffhanger in the process, and now I'm looking forward to reading the four books in succession. I can't imagine what it would have been like to wait a year or so for each of the next books in the series to be published one-at-a-time because I'm pretty certain that I would have lost the momentum (and memory of the plot details) necessary to maximize the fun of the Berrybender books. (I see now that both The Wandering Hill and By Sorrow's River were published in 2003 and Folly and Glory in 2004.)
So...reading slump averted. Now to see what's happening with the surviving Berrybenders...