Jason Storm was a man with no close friends. He’d been a Marshall for twenty-five years when he made the momentous decision to retire from that line of work. It stemmed from his last chase of two bank robbers that has killed a clerk and his wife. One of them hadn’t been much more than a boy, swayed by his partner of an easier life, and the son of locals that he respected. They didn’t blame him for killing the boy, who’d proclaimed that when he ran into Storm, one of them was going to end up dead. The shooting bothered him much more than the partner and when he delivered the body to the boy’s parents, it set him to considering retirement.
He headed for a valley in the Montana territory he remembered riding through five years before. He’d thought then it might be a good place to start a ranch, isolated enough to give him solitude, but only a few day from civilization. Getting to Paradise Valley, changes began to show immediately. Signs of people here and there, he came to a small town, very small, known simply as Paradise. A saloon, general store, blacksmith shop, corral, sheriff’s office, a few houses. The law was part-time. The sheriff was a farmer who spent little time in town. What was there to do? The deputy was a very young man who worked for the blacksmith.
The town was the brainchild of a rich man named Raymond Pryor, a man interested in helping people get started, building a community of friendly folks. In that regard, if he like your looks, he would back you, remaining a silent partner, leaving you to run your business the way you saw fit.
Jason was offered a great deal. The perfect spot, a small off-shoot valley a day’s ride away, one hundred-fifty acres of prime land. The terms were generous: a dollar an acre, no payment due for a year, and he would even help with the stock the ex-lawman would need. Accepting the offer, with the help of Pryor and his men, he began to build a home, barn, corral, ready for his new life as a small rancher.
It was only a short time later that the six hardcases, Mace Cantrell and his band of outlaws, rode into town. They were looking for easy pickings, but Paradise didn’t look like much. Until they heard the story of Raymond Pryor’s generosity. Since there was no bank in town, Pryor must have a large chunk of money at his ranch.
By the time it was over, everyone at Pryor’s ranch was dead, net gain for Cantrell forty-eight dollars and a few baubles. In revenge, he burned the ranch to the ground and headed back to Paradise, intent on looting it of everything of value. The farmer/Sheriff quit the job. It was not anything for which he’d signed up. He had a family to protect. The deputy, though willing, was very young and inexperienced.
Enter Jason Storm.
Though he’d quit the Marshaling business and came way up here to get away from anyone who knew him, he couldn’t let the murder of his benefactor and the threat to the decent people of Paradise go unchallenged.
A fine new novel by Mr. West. Worth a look.