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Joshua Bannon, a crusty, individualistic old frontier doctor, is never too sparing with advice for his young friend, Sheriff Tom Cartland. "Any time an animal has a lot of brawn and a little brain," he tells Cartland, "it is going to be forceful, dim-witted, obnoxious and troublesome." The sheriff finds out just how applicable this law is to humans when a body of an unknown range rider is discovered just outside of town. The dead man's horse has run off, and there is nothing to identify the man with but his ivory-handled pistol and silver-mounted spurs, which look conspicuously out of place on the apparently ordinary cowboy. Examining the dead man further, the wily but unorthodox lawman discovers two more fascinating items: a moneybelt with six thousand dollars in cash, and a bullet hole in the cowboy's back. Cartland traces the runaway horse to the cabin of George Cannon, a tough but honest homesteader with three sons, each as burly and strong-willed as his father. Despite their initial frostiness and the sheriff's natural prejudice against squatters and settlers, the Cannons and Sheriff Cartland develop a relationship of mutual respect and admiration. The Cannons turn over to Tom a gold pocket watch that the dead cowboy had been carrying, but on the way back from their spread, Tom is ambushed and the watch is stolen. He is wounded in the attack, which the townspeople all assume to be the work of highwaymen, but which Tom and Doc Bannon correctly surmise to be that of men who are after the cash from the moneybelt. With help from the Cannons, the good doctor, and several of the more colorful townspeople, Sheriff Cartland manages to uncover the identity of the bushwackers, and sets a trap for them, using the six thousand dollars as bait. What follows is solid, fast-paced Old West action, interspersed with the constant wisecracking of old Doc Bannon, which makes this another irresistible Western yarn from Lauran Paine.
Two Western novellas by the incomparable Lauran Paine, a titan of the Western genre."Tomahawk Meadow" tells the story of Ladd Buckner, a stranger who arrives in a small town in Arizona Territory. Buckner buys the local saddle and harness shop, but when the townspeople recognize his stitch work, the town marshal decides to investigate. Before he can reveal his findings, however, the marshal is killed during the course of a daring bank robbery. A letter is found in his pocket that states Ladd Buckner had been released from prison after serving a term for bank robbery. To keep his good name, Buckner will have to track down the men who robbed the town and killed the sheriff, in this thrilling story about honor, loyalty, and running from one's past.In "Promise of Revenge," Tom Barker returns to the small cow town of Beatty, where, fifteen years before, his mother had abandoned him and had run off with another man. Tom's father, a freighter, abused the boy while authorities looked the other way. Now he is grown, has acquired a good deal of wealth, and is back in Beatty, intent on evening the score with the town that rejected him. Although handy with a six-gun, he'll have to uses his wits and his wealth to outsmart the rich locals who never thought Tom Barker would return . . .
SHERIDAN WAS A PEACEFUL TOWN UNTIL THE STAGE ROLLED IN The next day the banker was shot at his desk by a bullet from a Lightning Colt. Trouble was, all four stagecoach passengers carried Colts--and one of them was a mighty pretty woman. Town marshal Joe Fogarty's got his hands full. When the pretty woman turns out to be a Pinkerton lady, and the traveling peddlers turn out to be counterfeiters, all hell breaks loose. And before the bushwhacking and kidnapping and shooting stop, Fogarty will know a lot more about outlaws--and pretty women who carry pistols in their purses.
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