Cole Masters has a problem. As sheriff of the town of Squaw, he’d arrested Sam Bowden for cutting up and murdering a woman. It was the worst in a long series of arests of the man, the son of Clem Bowden, a wealthy and powerful rancher.
The old man wants his son released and Cole won’t allow it. A judge was on the way and a trial set. The old man and his crew are on the way to get him out. The town, afraid as well as beholden to the rancher, isn’t going to back him.
When they arrive, the sheriff is forced to give up the keys. Outnumbered, with his fiance, Jessie, and his best friend, old man Em, with guns on them, he takes off his badge in disgust. That’s when Bowden’s foreman starts beating him until he’s out cold.
Waking from the thrashing, everything is different. San Bowden is out of jail and the foreman is now sheriff. In a confrontation, the sheriff draws on him and Cole kills him, fleeing town after, even though it was self-defense.
THE TARNISHED STAR is the story of a man out to redeem himself. A man of honor, he’s embarrassed the town wouldn’t back his legal actions, that he took the badge off and was beaten into submission, that he killed the sheriff, though self-defense and reprehensible that the man was even an officer of the law.
And Clem Bowden has brought in two “professionals” to ensure that Masters will be dead before the judge arrives so that he can spin things in the best light for his son.
I liked this book. A first novel, Martin deftly handles his characters developing them into true people with their own foibles. Cole Masters, the honorable man, San Bowden, the spoiled young man who’d never been responsible for his actions, Clem Bowden, the father who recognizes his own and his son’s shortcomngs, but as a father, can’t stop himself from doing all the wrong things.
The book is smoothly written and a fast read(it just came in the mails yesterday). I’m now looking forward to his next tale.