U.S. Marshal Alistair Taggart has spent almost seven years protecting the citizens of Bleeding Kansas from the lawlessness surrounding its push to achieve statehood. Now, Kansas has entered the Union as a free state, but the violence threatens to continue when the Civil War erupts only three months later.
During one of Taggart’s regular visits to the former Kansas territorial capital of Lecompton, local rancher James Harper enlists the marshal’s help to catch the cattle rustlers intent on stealing his livelihood. But Kansas is just beginning its reign as the wildest state in the Union, and Taggart must also deal with Jayhawkers, highwaymen, unpredictable weather, and those hell-bent on revenge. Taggart finds his job further complicated by a runaway slave and animals gone delinquent, along with his own concerns that age may finally be catching up with him.
Solving the case will prove harder than Taggart ever imagined, and its resolution will cost him dearly. Sometimes, justice only comes with a price…
Targeted Age Group:: 16 yrs and up.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
My publisher requested a follow up to my first book, Borrowed Guns, and suggested I take an event mentioned in it and turn it into a story using the same main character, Marshal Alistair B. Taggart.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Marshal Taggart is loosely based on a friend of mine who recently passed away. He was a great friend and mentor, as well as a terrific individual. The other characters simply came about as the story called for them and as it progressed along avenues not originally plotted.
“Tell me, what’s keeping you in one town for so long, Al?”
“I was all prepared to leave Lecompton when Denton pointed me out to someone who then asked for my help.”
“Who was it, and what did they want?” Royce asked.
“A rancher west of town has some cattle rustlers who are making it hard for him to keep his livelihood.”
“You need any help? I don’t have anywhere I need to be for a week or two.”
“Won’t you be too busy pursuing the ladies to spend your visit chasing down vermin with me?”
“Naw. Since I don’t plan on any long-term entanglements, romanticizing doesn’t take but a few minutes, if you catch my meaning.”
Taggart poured himself another drink. “Well, I appreciate the offer, but I hope it will be a simple matter of following their tracks and rounding up the culprits.”
“This rain you had ought to help make it easy read their sign. Are you sure you don’t want my help? I’m still pretty handy with a gun, even if I’m not quite the sharpshooter I used to be.”
“No, I would rather handle this on my own. If I need some extra help, I’ll keep the offer in mind.”
Royce looked at him hard. “Your not wanting my help doesn’t have anything to do with the time I gave you a hand rounding up Stumpy Hodges and his bunch, does it? You know that wasn’t my fault. The wedge on his gun had a burr on it. I couldn’t help it the thing caught his trousers when I took it out of his waist-band.”
“I don’t blame you for that. It was worth having to chase the rest of them again just to watch Stumpy dance around and try to yank his pants off to see if you’d made him live up to his nick-name. It was just as funny seeing all the smoke coming out of his breeches while he was jumping up and down and screaming loud enough to scare eggs out of a hen.”
“For all the grief you gave me about it at the time, I wished I had shot his pecker off! What kind of a damned stupid son of a bitch walks around with a cocked gun stuffed in the front of his trousers?”
“Stumpy Hodges, for one.”
“Well, it’s funny now, but at the time it darn near turned my liver green. And I don’t remember you thinking it was so funny when the bullet hit next to your foot, neither.”
“We have had some interesting times together, haven’t we?”
“I reckon we have,” Royce said.
About the Author:
J. D. McCall grew up in Kansas during the time when Westerns were king on television and at the movies. Living in a state that was home to such places as Abilene, Dodge, Wichita, and many other of the wickedest cattle towns ever found in the West, the author was never far from Kansas lore, which included the legendary figures of Earp, Hickok, Masterson, and Cody. Not surprisingly, he has retained a great affection for that part of American history which was once the Old West. Born too late to be a cowboy, Mr. McCall makes his living in this modern day as an industrial hygienist in the field of occupational health and safety. He continues to reside in the city of his birth, Ottawa, with his wife and three children.
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