A TIME FOR HANGING
When fifteen year old Paco Morales stumbled over the body of the preacher’s daughter, all he could think to do was run. It was already to late as he runs into the folks out looking for the runaway daughter and they beat him within an inch of his life before they could be stopped. The lynching talk started immediately.
Sheriff Vincent hated trouble. he’d only taken the job years back because people had convinced him it would be easy. Nothing ever happened. He’d been stuck with it ever since. He remembered the last time that “nothing” had happened. Three years before Paco’s father robert had been killed in a poker game. The tinhorn claimed he’d caught the Mexican cheating and shot him when he went for a knife. The sheriff had let it slide. But he’d remembered Robert as an honest, hardworking man and had never seen him with a knife. it was just easier to go along.
As the lynch talk increased, fueled by liquor and one angry little man, the Sheriff began to uncover things he didn’t like. The preacher’s daughter liked men, a rebellion against her hell-fire-and-brimstone father. The doctor revealed she was pregnant.
More suspects piled up: Roger Benteen’s daughter was engaged to his foreman, the foreman was the father of the child, the town drunk turned out to be at the scene, but his memory was a bit hazy. Even his one-eyed deputy had seen the dead girl a few times.
A nice little mystery here. Can Vincent figure it all out and stop the mob from findng the boy and hanging him?
Ray Storey, aka Kit Carson, was advance man, as well as performer, for Colonel Mahaffey’s medicine show. He performed trick shots to amaze the audience in advance of the salacious Indian healing Dance and the sale of Indian Miracle Oil to gullible men. He traveled with the show while hunting for a man named Sam Hawkins. Storey intended to kill him. Three years before, during a bank robbery, three men had rode down his kid brother on a dusty Kansas street while fleeing. One was recognized as Sam Hawkins. One of the other two was likely Ben Hawkins, the brother.
Storey had fixated on Sam though.
And then he found them on the show’s latest stop, terrorizing the small town, with a sheriff to lazy, or scared, to do anything about. When confronted with the man he had searched for for three years, doubt set in. While he gotten fast on the draw, his accuracy left a lot to be desired. His shells for the trick shooting were loaded with bird shot.
When the two brothers rob the show, killing one man and taking the preacher’s wife prisoner, both Storey and the preacher find courage from unexpected sources.
These are the first two westerns by Bill I’ve read and enjoyed them thoroughly.