Author Clifton Adams lived a short life, born in Oklahoma in December 1, 1919 and passing away because of a heart attack in San Francisco on October 7, 1971. Over that period, he wrote some forty plus novels and a hundred-twenty-five short stories. He had several of his books made into films, this 1963 novel among them. I reported on it this past Tuesday for Todd Mason. I also did a post on a book with one of his short stories here.
Kiowa Jones was a drifter. A cowhand, he’d had a fiddle-foot moment and decided to move on. When he comes across the plague camp, he made the mistake of stopping. Marshall Duncan was escorting three men scheduled for hanging at Fort Smith, two murderers and a smuggler. The Marshall and the smuggler had the pox, both near death.
The Marshall convinces Kiowa to take them on, shortly before his death and the smuggler’s, to Fort Smith.
One killer is Bobby Jack Wilkes, a Billy The Kid wannabe, a hired assassin reputed to have killed twenty, twenty-five men, loud-mouthed, vain, and cocksure. The second was Skoda, a gypsy who’d married a woman half his age and in a moment of rage, stabbed her while she was flaunting her infidelities. Skoda was resigned to his death, the Tarot cards said it. Not so the kid. Prepared for such an occurrence, he’d put word out that he’d double the thousand dollar reward on his head to anybody that set him free.
It was a long ride across the prairie to Fort Smith and more than bounty hunters were looking for them. An incident with a pair of them, rescued by a young teacher, Amilia Rathmore, on her way to a job in the Cherokee Nation. A vengeful family that want Wilkes for a far different reason an a couple of cowpokes that see easy money.
Although he has no desire for the bounty on Wilkes’ head, he is briefly tempted by the double offer, causing even more consternation in his basically honest soul.
Along the way, Kiowa and Amilia grow close, much to Kiowa’s consternation and against his will.
Kind of liked this one, made into a TV pilot in 1966 that wasn’t picked up.
Patti is on vacation this week, so Todd Mason is doing the honors over at SWEET FREEDOM.