The third Western novel in my Ames Archives series is almost ready for publication. All the editing and corrections have been completed, and it remains only to format it for e-book and print editions. I'm also re-issuing the e-book editions of the first two books in the series, "Brings The Lightning" and "Rocky Mountain Retribution". I'll do them first, with the third book to follow. All three should be out within the next couple of weeks, God and Amazon.com willing.
To whet your appetite, here's the cover for the third book.
The cover image is cropped from Frederic Sackrider Remington's 1889 painting, "A Dash for the Timber". The picture launched his national career, being received with acclamation when it was exhibited at the National Academy that year.
Want more? Here's a brief excerpt from the book, to go with the snippet I posted last month.
Late in the afternoon of their fourth day in Mexico, they reached the small town of Nueva Rosita. There appeared to be some sort of festival in progress; a small band was playing, stalls had been set up in and around the main square, and vendors were doing a brisk trade selling food and drink. Walt was conscious of the eager eyes of his men on the goings-on, and made a snap decision.
“Boys, we’ll make camp for the night on the far side of town. I want four men on watch at all times. The first four will guard the camp an’ the hosses while the rest come back here to have some fun. I’ll make sure they’re relieved by seven, to let them do the same. Don’t flash your money around, and don’t bully or shove your way through the crowds. Remember, this ain’t our country – it’s theirs, and we want ’em to sell us their hosses. Treat ’em the way we’d like our guests to treat us.”
The horses were watered at a nearby stream, then picketed in a field to prevent them straying. Their saddles and pack saddles were piled in the campsite. Walt warned everyone, with a grin, “Put your bedrolls out ready before you go into town. You may find it tricky when you come back later tonight, if you’ve been celebratin’ too hard!” With laughter and quips flying back and forth, the men complied.
Walt had a word with the first four guards, and those he’d delegated to relieve them later, before walking back to town. “Keep your eyes open and don’t slack off. Remember, we’ve had those men watchin’ us ever since we crossed the border. I’d not put it past them to try somethin’ tonight, while we’re all sleepin’ off the fun. Don’t let them get past you because you’re day-dreamin’ about the fun you’re gonna have, or did have, in town.”
“Got it, boss.” “I hear ya, boss.” The four rumbled their agreement, and kept their rifles in their hands as they watched the surrounding countryside.
Satisfied, Walt followed most of his men back into town. It was only a couple of hundred yards to the main square, so they didn’t bother to take their horses. The men split up into small groups and wandered around, buying food from this stall, a drink from that, and eyeing the attractive Mexican girls with appreciation.
Walt drew laughter from onlookers when he stopped at a stall selling straw products – baskets, hats and the like. He took off his Stetson hat, laid it on the table, and picked up a sombrero with an enormous brim, almost a yard wide. The children in particular seemed to find that very funny, giggling at this strange gringo trying on one of their hats, trying to look like one of their people. They couldn’t help staring at the metal hook on his left wrist. He bent down to their level and wriggled it back and forth, drawing shrieks of merriment from the little boys and smiles from their parents as they scrambled back to get away from it.
As he straightened up, an unkempt, unshaven man wearing greasy, dirty clothing stepped in front of him and picked up his Stetson from the table. “Esto es mio ahora,” he said with a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “This is mine now.”
Walt was sure he’d seen this man through his spyglass. He’d been one of those following them over the past few days. Three more men shouldered their way through the crowd to stand in a half-circle behind him. The locals fell silent, edging away to make space around them.
“No, it’s not. It’s mine,” Walt told him as he took off the sombrero and set it down on the table.
“I didn’t ask you,” the man replied with a cold grin. “If I want something, I take it.”
“You’re not taking that one. I’ll tell you just once, politely, to put it down.”
“Why don’t you make me, cabron?” He tossed the hat behind him as he bent forward, hand hovering menacingly over the knife on his hip. A little girl operating the stall next door, selling what looked like lemonade or something similar, let out a cry of anguish as the flying hat knocked her big glass jug off the table. It shattered as it hit the hard ground, broken glass and liquid flying in all directions.
Behind the speaker, the other three men tensed for action. Walt realized at once what they were trying to do. The border officials had seen that he, as leader, was carrying the group’s money. If anything happened to him, these men – or those who had sent them – probably reckoned that the rest of the group would be easier to deal with.
Without warning, or telegraphing his movements by getting into a better position, he launched a forward stamping kick that smacked into the kneecap of the man facing him, hard enough that his knee joint reversed itself with a sickening crack! The man screamed in sudden anguish and toppled sideways, his hands going to his injured leg as he writhed in agony on the ground. Behind him, the other men’s hands stabbed towards their holsters – only to come to a frozen halt as Walt’s right hand made a sight-defying flip, and his revolver lined rock-solid on them.
There was a sudden, deafening silence around the stall, spreading out into the square. Only the sobs of the girl behind the next table and the moans of the injured man could be heard.
Walt said slowly, softly, “Do you want to live, or do you want to die?”
Their mouths still agape, for a moment none of the three could answer. At last one said, shakily, “L-live, señor.”
“Then shed your guns, very slowly, very carefully. Use one finger and thumb only. Let them fall at your feet. Your knives, too.”
I hope you enjoy the book. I've had a lot of fun writing it.
August should see the publication of a stand-alone fantasy/historical novel, "Taghri's Prize". I've set it in a world similar to Arabia and the Persian Gulf, but where Mohammed was never born and Islam did not arise. It draws on the pagan gods of pre-Islamic times, and the cultures that developed prior to monotheism. I published a teaser excerpt last December. Here's the cover.
I hope you enjoy both books. I'm working on the sixth volume of the Maxwell Saga, and the third and final volume of the Laredo War trilogy, as I write these words. Look for them soon!