Reb Dallon was the new Sheriff of Longhorn having responded to a telegram offering seventy a month and room and board. Reb had made a career as a lawman and it had earned him a reputation. That was what Longhorn needed. In the last year, they’d buried three Sheriffs.
He started immediately after checking in with the town council and began issuing a new order to the saloons in town. No alcohol to be sold to very drunk individuals, in fact they were to be thrown out of said saloons. He had no real problem until he got to the last, and biggest saloon in town: The Crystal.
There he witnesses the hazing of a young puncher with a limp that is about to lead to a killing when he steps in. He ends up killing a gun man that worked for Luke Mitchell, owner of the Rocking L. The Crystal was owned by a man named Mace Coldfield. Reb was soon to learn disturbing rumors about the two men.
A rustling out fit known as the night riders was working the valley. They wore bleached out feed sacks over their heads and were very careful to get their wounded away from their raids so no one could identify them. They would run off a few hundred head of cattle here and there and there was a curious apathy among the ranches toward them. No one had ever been seriously hurt and none of them seemed inclined to bind together and take them out.
Reb got a visit from them the second night, taking a hard beating, They didn’t seem inclined to kill him, even after he managed to shot a couple, warning him it would be a smart move to leave town.
All they did was make him mad.
One of the local saloon owners, a man from the East, gave Reb the lay. While there was no proof whatsoever, most thought that Luke Mitchell and his boys, gun men all, were the night riders and that Mace Coldfield was the secret owner of the Rocking L.
Reb set out to do two things: prove that and shake the ranchers from their apathy. Losing cattle every now and then never seemed to bother them. Reb pointed out that it would get worse before it got better.
Some of the other cast of characters include Piney Woods, the young puncher he’d saved in The Crystal, who suddenly became a hero worshiper, Kate Wheeler, an attractive young woman he was attracted to, who didn’t like his reputation(“You think they won’t shoot if I say please), India Coldfield, Mace’s wife, who in modern parlance would be called high maintenance, and young Chip Wheeler, cousin to Kate, who fancied himslef a gun man but looked, and dressed, more like a circus cowboy.
An early Jakes novel, it was backed with THE FRIENDLESS ONE by Ray Hogan in an Ace double.
For other forgotten books, go to PATTINASE.