He came by the name Arkansas Smith because he was found amidst the slaughtered party of people, killed by Indians, a newborn, the last thing his mother did before she died and still attached to the umbilical cord. Walter and Edith Smith found him, raised him, and gave him the name Arkansas because that’s where they found him(at least that’s where they thought they were). The name stuck when they learned different.

A former Texas Ranger, he now had a reputation as a gunslinger and rumors were rampant about him. Outlaw, some even claimed he was a lawman. No one knew for sure.

Arkansas arrived at the ranch of old friend and mentor from their Texas Ranger days to find Will McCord gut shot and almost dead. The cabin had been ransacked, all the animals run off, general disorder all over the place.

Will was lucky. The bullet hadn’t hit any major organs, it seemed, lodged instead in belly fat, and Arkansas did what he could before heading into Red Rock to fetch a doctor and supplies. After the doctor left, he straightened up the cabin and talked to his friend.

“Rustlers” was what he said, “probably sent by Lance.” john Lance was a rancher building an empire in the area and Will was one of the few that wouldn’t sell to him.

Now he claimed to have a bill of sale from McCord and wanted him off the property. It was obvious to Arkansas that his friend wasn’t supposed to survive the rustler’s bullet because no one would then be left to dispute the new owner’s claims.

Attempts were made to get Arkansas, a gunman bracing him on the street, the tame lawman leading the posse to get them off the land at Lance’s instigation. But there was one thing they didn’t know about McCord’s friend. He was going to get to the bottom of what was going on here. And nothing was going to stop him.

Another fine western from the master of THE TAINTED ARCHIVE. There’s more confidence in his writing here and makes me look forward to his crime novel whenever it appears.