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Lone Star Law by [Louis L'Amour, Elmer Kelton, James M. Reasoner, Ed Gorman, Robert J. Randisi]

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Lone Star Law Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 44 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robert J. Randisi is the creator and author of The Gunsmith, the popular Western series with more than 250 novels, written under the pen name J.R. Roberts. Western novels that have appeared under his own name are The Ham Reporter, The Ghost with Blue Eyes, Legend, and more. He has also edited the Western anthologies White Hats, Black Hats, and Boot Hill. --This text refers to the paperback edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

A Job for a Ranger

Louis L'Amour

While the only true series Louis L'Amour wrote in novel form was his tales of the Sackett family, he did write a series of short stories that featured Texas Ranger Chick Bowdrie. Some of the stories were published in a collection called Bowdrie. Most of them were written between 1940 and 1947 and appeared in the magazine Popular Western.

The one I've chosen for this anthology shows Bowdrie acting not only as a Ranger, but as a detective as well.

There were two bullet holes in the bank window, and there was blood on the hitching rail where the cashier had fallen while trying to get off a last shot. Lem Pullitt had died there by the rail, but not before telling how he had been shot while his hands were up.

Chick Bowdrie stood on the boardwalk, his dark, Apache-like features showing no expression. "I don't like it," he muttered. "Either the holdup man was a cold-blooded killer or somebody wanted Pullitt killed."

He glanced up the street again, his eyes searching the buildings, the walks, the horses tied at the rails. Many men kill, but killing a game man when his hands were up...it just wasn't the way things were done in Texas. And Lem had been game or he would not have stumbled out there, dying, trying for a shot.

The bandits had come into town in two groups. One man with a rifle dismounted in front of the Rancher's Rest while the others rode on to the bank. One then remained outside with the horses, and three had gone inside.

When shots sounded from inside the bank, men rushed to the street; then the man with the rifle opened fire. He covered the retreat of the four men at the bank, but what had become of the man with the rifle? He had not run the gauntlet in the street.

Henry Plank, clerk in the stage station, had stepped to the door and opened fire on the fleeing bandits. He claimed to have winged one of them. Bowdrie pushed his hat back on his head and studied the street, scowling.

A large man with a blond mustache emerged from the bank and walked over to where Bowdrie stood. His face was florid and he wore a wide, dusty Stetson.

"Are you the Ranger?"

Bowdrie turned his black eyes on the man, who felt a sudden shiver go through him. There was something in those eyes that made him feel uncomfortable.

"Name of Bowdrie. Chick, they call me. You're Bates?"

"Yes. They call me Big Jim. I am the banker. Or maybe I should say, I was the banker."

"Is it that bad?"

Bowdrie's eyes strayed up the street. That was the direction from which the bandits had come. They could not have been seen until they were right in the street, and when they left, it was in the opposite direction, which put them behind some cottonwoods within a minute or two.

On the side of the street where he stood were the bank, a livery stable, a general store, and a blacksmith shop. At the opposite end, standing out a little from the other buildings, was the Rancher's Rest. Across from the Rest were a corral, two houses, a dance hall, now closed, and the Chuck Wagon, a combination saloon and eating house. Directly across was the stage station.

"Yeah," Big Jim said, "it is that bad. I've got money out on loans. Too darned much. None of the loans are due now. A few weeks ago I loaned ten thousand to Jackson Kegley, and I was figurin' on loanin' him the ten thousand they stole."

"Who's Kegley?"

"Kegley? He owns the Rest. Got a big cattle spread west of town. Runs eight, nine thousand head of stock. His place runs clean up to West Fork. That's where the Tom Roway place is."

"Roway's the man you think done it? Something to that effect was in the report."

Bates shrugged. "I ain't seen Tom Roway but twice in five years. He killed a couple of men in shootin' scrapes, then went to the pen for shootin' a man in the back.

"Three years ago he came back and brought Mig Barnes along. Barnes is pretty tough himself, or so they say."

"Why did you suspect Roway?"

"Bob Singer...he's a puncher around here, seen that paint horse. I guess everybody else saw it, too. The gent who used the rifle was ridin' that paint. Sorrel splash on the left hip and several dabs of color on the left shoulder."

"Did you send a posse after them?"

Bates looked embarrassed "Nobody would go. Tom Roway is mighty handy with a rifle and he's fast with a six-shooter. Bob Singer is pretty salty himself, and he wouldn't go, and after that, people just sort of backed off. Finally Kegley, Joel, an' me went out. We lost the trail in the waters of West Fork."

"Joel?"

"My son. He's twenty-one, and a pretty good tracker."

Chick walked past the bank. There was a bullet hole in the side window of the bank, too. When they started shooting in some of these towns, they surely shot things up. He walked on to the Rancher's Rest and stepped inside.

Aside from the bartender, there were three men in the saloon. The big, handsome man standing at the bar had a pleasant face, and he turned to smile at Bowdrie as he entered.

A man at a card table playing solitaire had a tied-down gun. The third man was a lantern-jawed puncher with straw-colored hair.

"You'll be Bowdrie, I guess," the big man said. "I am Jackson Kegley. This is my place."

"How're you?"

Chick glanced at the straw-haired puncher. He grinned with wry humor. "I'm Rip Coker. That shrinkin' violet at the card table is Bob Singer. Better keep an eye on him, Ranger, he's mighty slick with an iron, either shootin' or brandin'."

Singer glared at Coker, and his lips thinned as he looked down at his cards. Chick noticed the glance, then turned his attention to Kegley.

"You know Roway. Do you think he done it?"

"I wouldn't know. He's a damn good shot. We trailed him as far as the West Fork."

Coker leaned his forearms on the bar. His plaid shirt was faded and worn. "Roway's not so bad," he commented, "and I don't think he done it."

Singer was impatient. "Nobody could miss that paint hoss," he suggested. "Ain't another in the country like it."

Coker gave Singer a disgusted glance. "Then why would he ride it? If you was robbin' a bank, would you ride the most noticeable horse around?"

Bob Singer flushed angrily and his eyes were hard when he looked up, but he offered no comment.

"I'll look around some," Bowdrie said.

He walked outside, studying the street again. There was a suggestion of an idea in his mind, and something felt wrong about the whole affair. He went to the hotel section of the Rest and signed for a room, then strolled outside.

Something in the dust at his feet caught his eye, and he stepped down off the walk, running the dust through his fingers. He took something from the dust, placed it carefully inside a folded cigarette paper, and put it in his wallet.

Singer had come out of the saloon and was watching him. Bowdrie ignored him and strolled down to where his horse was tied. He was swinging into the saddle when Bates came to the door. "You ain't goin' after him alone, are you?"

Bowdrie shrugged. "Why not? I haven't seen any of his graveyards around."

He turned the roan into the trail. He was irritable because he was uneasy. There was something wrong here, it was too pat, too set up, and they were too ready to accuse Roway. "Personally," Bowdrie told the roan, "I agree with Coker. An outlaw using a horse everybody knew, that doesn't even make sense."

The trail was good for the first few miles, then became steadily worse. It wound higher and higher into rougher and rougher country. Skimpy trails edged around cliffs with dropoffs of several hundred feet to the bottom of dry canyons. Then, of a sudden, the trail spilled over a ridge into a green meadow, and that meadow opened into still another, each one skirted by borders of trees. At the end of the last meadow was a cabin, smoke rising from the chimney. A few cattle grazed nearby, and there were horses in the corral.

Chick Bowdrie rode up and stepped down. One of the horses in the corral was a paint with a splash of sorrel on the hip, a few smaller flecks on the shoulder. It was an unusual marking, unlikely to be duplicated.

"Lookin' for something?" The tone was harsh, and Bowdrie took care to keep his hands away from his guns.

The man stood at the door of his cabin not twenty feet away. He was a hard-visaged man with an unshaved face and cold eyes under bushy black brows. He wore a gun in a worn holster, and beyond him inside the door another man sat on a chair with a rifle across his knees.

"Are you Tom Roway?"

"And what if I am?"

Bowdrie studied him coolly for a long minute and then said, "I'm Chick Bowdrie, a Ranger. We've got to have a talk."

"I've heard of you. I've no call to like the law, but you want to talk, come on in. Coffee's on."

The man at the door put down his rifle and put a tin plate and a cup on the table. He was a stocky man with a pockmarked face. "Ain't often we have a Ranger for chow," he commented.

Roway sat down, filling three cups. "All right, Ranger, speak your piece. What business do you have with us?"

"Have you been ridin' that paint horse lately?"

"I ride that paint most of the time."

"Did you ride into Morales Monday morning an stick up the bank?"

"What kind of a question is that? No, I didn't rob no bank and I ain't been in Morales in a month! What is this? Some kind of a frame-up?"

"Five men robbed the bank at Morales Monday morning, and one of them was ridin' a paint horse, a dead ringer for that one out yonder." Bowdrie gestured toward the corral. "Where was that horse on Monday?"

"Right where he is now. He ain't been off this place in a week." He looked up, scowling. "Who identified that animal?"

"A dozen people. He was right out in plain sight. Nobody could've missed him. One who identified him was Bob Singer."

"Singer?" Roway's eyes flashed. "I'll kill him!"

"No you won't," Bowdrie said. "If there's any killin' done, I'll do it."

For a moment their eyes locked, but Roway was the first to look away. Mig Barnes had been wat... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B000FCK0W6
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Pocket Books; Reprint edition (March 1, 2005)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ March 1, 2005
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 603 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 320 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.2 out of 5 stars 44 ratings

About the author

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I was the kid in school who always had a science fiction or thriller paperback hidden behind my textbook while class was in session. I was not exactly a gifted student but I did read all the classics (my classics) from Edgar Rice Burroughs to Jack London to Ray Bradbury to Raymond Chandler before I finished high school.

I wrote my first story in third grade. I still remember the first paragraph--I wanted to make sure that my vast readership (me) got the idea that this was a science fiction story. "Johnny Mars walked down Mars Street on Mars one day." I don't know about you but I think that should be studied in every writing class ever taught.:)

About my stories and books:

"Ed Gorman has the same infallible readability as writers like Lawrence Block, Max Allan Collins, Donald E. Westlake, Ed McBain, and John D. MacDonald." Jon Breen, Ellery Queen

Kirkus called Ed Gorman "One of the most original crime writers around."

Gorman's novels The Poker Club and The Haunted have both been filmed. Author of more than thirty novels and ten collections of short stories, The Oxford Book of Short Stories noted that his work "provides fresh ideas, characters and approaches."

The Rocky Mountain News called him "The modern master of the lean and mean thriller." Gorman's thrillers include Blood Moon and The Marilyn Tapes both available as part of the Top Suspense Group (TSG).

His novel Cage of Night, also available on TSG, is one of Gorman's personal favorites. The sites Gravetapping and Good Reads noted "It is truly a classic of the macabre--part mystery, part suspense, and entirely chilling and haunting."

Gorman's westerns have also been lauded by Publisher's Weekly. "Written in a lean hard-boiled style." Rocky Mountain News said "Simply one of the best Western writers of our time." Booklist raved "Intelligent characaters uniuely motivated make for knock-out read."

Gorman is now busy on a suspense novel he hopes to finish this year. Gorman can be reached at New Improved Gorman http://www.newimprovedgorman.com/ You can also follow him on Twitter.

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