“The interplay between Cole and his two riding buddies… makes this fine novel sing.” —Booklist (starred review)
The winter around Cheyenne, Wyoming, is devastating, killing both people and livestock. John Henry Cole lives three miles out of town on his small ranch, where he waits out the storm that is quickly killing his cattle and horses. Everything he owns is dying before his eyes, and there isn’t anything he can do about it. His dreams of a settled life are as dead as everything else. He knows it’s time to move on, and move on he does—but not in the direction he expected.
Teddy Green, a Texas ranger, arrives in Cheyenne and seeks Cole’s help in locating Ella Mims, a woman who once lived in Cheyenne and with whom Cole had once been intimate. Green wants to question Mims concerning her involvement in a Denver City murder … but he’s not the only one searching for her.
John Henry Cole worked for years in Cheyenne, Wyoming—first as a policeman, and later a detective. He enjoyed the work, despite its dangers, but it was time for a change. So he decided to open his own agency, one staffed by former lawmen like himself. In practice they might be bounty hunters, but he hired men he had worked with before that he knew and trusted to be honorable and professional—and then they got to work.
And work it was. Cole’s agency was located in just about the most dangerous place it could be: Red Pony, in the Cherokee strip, a region often referred to as a no-man’s-land because of its rampant outlawry. But the way Cole saw it, what better place to hunt for outlaws with bounties on their heads?
But Cole’s team may have bit off more than it can chew when it sets out to capture the notorious Sam Starr and his outlaw gang, and bring them all to justice.
John Henry Cole’s life has quieted down from what it had always been, and he can now settle down and make improvements on his small ranch. But everything changes when an old rancher named Wilson rides in with his two sons.
Wilson is willing to pay Cole $5,000 to help get back his wife, Lenora, who has been taken hostage by Lucky Jack Dancer, an outlaw who had robbed the train on which she was a passenger. She is being held prisoner in Gun Town, a safe haven for outlaws.
Cole had sided Lucky Jack Dancer years ago when both of them had operated as US marshals in the Indian Nations, but that was before Lucky Jack had quit the service and become an outlaw. The situation becomes complicated when Cole learns that Wilson’s son doesn’t want the woman back and that Wilson’s health is seriously compromised.
John Henry Cole, working as a deputy US marshal out of Judge Isaac Parker’s court in Fort Smith, Arkansas, was on assignment in the Indian Nations when he was shot and seriously injured. Now, fifteen years later, employed as a deputy for Judge Roy Bean in Texas, Cole receives a personal summons from Judge Parker to appear in his court within thirty days. Cole isn’t inclined to go, but he knows whatever’s on Judge Parker’s mind is serious and decides he has to go.