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I’m back this week with another Clifton Adams novel. THE LAST DAYS OF WOLF GARNETT won the Spur Award for best western novel in 1970. And man, I love this cover.

Frank Gault arrived in New Boston just a bit late. His horse had come up lame in his efforts to get there and he got off the stage with his saddle rig slung over one shoulder.

Wolf Garnett had been buried just that morning.

His year long hunt was over and he wasn’t sure how he felt about that. On the one hand, he was glad that it was over. On another, a suspicious mind wondered if it really was over. Garnett was an outlaw whose gang had held up a stage last year and Garnett had viciously whipped the horses and sent the driver-less stage on a wild race such that it ran off the trail. His wife had still been aboard and had died in the tumble down the mountain.

So he wanted to be positive. A year of his life had been dedicated to hunting Garnett down and he wanted to see the body to be sure. Because he had knew he had seen Garnett just five days before that in the Nations and lost him, only to hear a few days later about the dead body found by the Sheriff.

Olsen refused to dig up the body, he was filling out papers to file for the thousand dollar bounty when Gault approached him. The body had been identified by Garnett’s sister and two childhood friends on a trail drive through the area who’d heard about it and came in to see. An x-shaped scar on the neck of the badly decomposed body had been one marker, never mind the fancy boots, special made handgun, and the stetson blocked the way Garnett was known to wear it.

The whole thing smelled to Gault. The scar didn’t impress him. He’d seen a lot of them over the years, the result of lancing boils. The clothes and gun he couldn’t explain, so he decided to dig up the body himself. He was almost there when the Olsen appeared with a shotgun, encouraging him to finish and satisfy his curiosity. The body was in an advanced state of decay and he couldn’t tell anything.

Olsen was almost friendly after that, though he did want to know when he was leaving town. There was a stage due in in a couple of days. Could he stay out of trouble until then?

When Gault decides to leave before then, buying a buckskin from the hostler, things take a turn. Gault asks for his sidearm, there’s a law against wearing one in town. The Sheriff swears he doesn’t know anything about it. “I just asked you not to wear it.” The deputy had taken it. “He’s out of town on business for a few days and I don’t know where he put it.” It was a cheap sidearm anyway and Gault, like most cowmen, put more reliance in his Winchester.

Riding out of town he soon found out a couple of more things. Someone had filed down the firing pin on his rifle, leaving him effectively unarmed. And he was being followed.

A pair of them and they made little effort to hide.

Gault was headed for the Garnett place where the sister lived. he wanted to talk to her.

That gets him shot and begins a series of strange events. The sister saves him, he meets a range detective while recovering, a matter comes to light when he finds, on the body of a deputy that tries to kill him(he tramples him with his horse), the plain wedding band he’d bought his wife, a set of pearls that was taken in that same robbery, and a fancy gold watch that waslater identified as belonging to a Confederate officer that had been murdered during the war, along with all the escort accompanying $200,000 in gold coin.

That shipment disappeared missing and had not turned up in all those years. Which puts a whole new light on things

A nicely done novel. Recommended.

For more forgotten books, check in on Fridays with Patti Abbott at her blog, Pattinase.

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