Dead Man’s Cañon
By Lauran Paine
Read By to be announced
The trouble began for Sheriff Claude Rainey when the Hightower Ranch cowboys discovered a mummified man and his horse in a desert canyon near Springville, Arizona, both shot in the head. Ordinarily that should have been the end of it, since many a man riding the outlaw trail up out of Mexico didn’t make it through that God-forsaken country. What had troubled Rainey—and the townsmen—was what Al Trail, the Hightower foreman, had brought into town and given to the sheriff.
Near the body the cowboys had dug up a box that contained five bloodstained packets of $100 bills, amounting to $10,000. This deepened the mystery. After all, who kills a man and leaves behind $10,000? The only clue to the identity of the dead man that Sheriff Rainey can find in the canyon is the shriveled up brand on the horse, which he sketches and sends to the Registrar of Brands. The money is stowed in the only steel safe in Apache County while the sheriff and the townsmen wait to see who will ride in to Springville to claim the money. It is Sheriff Rainey’s hope that the town can keep the money and build a proper schoolhouse.
Then two men arrive within two weeks of each other. The first, Fernando Bríon, informs Rainey that US Marshal Jonas Gantt and his horse have been found shot in the head on his land across the border in Mexico. He gives him Gantt’s personal effects. The circumstances are similar to those of the dead man and his horse found in the canyon. The second man is Deputy US Marshal Arch Clayton, who informs Rainey that the dead man found by the Hightower cowboys was his partner back in Raton, New Mexico. Both men arouse suspicion in Sheriff Rainey and add to the questions mounting in his mind about the identity of the bushwhacking killer—foremost among them whether he will show up in Springville, and what it is that he is really after.