Boot Hill


They died with their boots on. So goes the old cliche that sums up the untimely demise of many a man in the Old West -- and no town was wilder than the ultimate City of Sin. Dodge City. The overcrowded cemetery in Dodge was known as Boot Hill, and it was filled with some of the wildest characters in American history. For this remarkable anthology, Robert Randisi invited the most talented Western authors of the day to tell stories of Boot Hill -- the coffin-maker with a death wish, the drunken cowboy haunted by ...
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Boot Hill

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They died with their boots on. So goes the old cliche that sums up the untimely demise of many a man in the Old West -- and no town was wilder than the ultimate City of Sin. Dodge City. The overcrowded cemetery in Dodge was known as Boot Hill, and it was filled with some of the wildest characters in American history. For this remarkable anthology, Robert Randisi invited the most talented Western authors of the day to tell stories of Boot Hill -- the coffin-maker with a death wish, the drunken cowboy haunted by one night of greed and violence, the vigilante piano man, and the tough-talking soiled dove. With original stories by Elmer Kelton, James Reasoner, Randy Lee Eickhoff, Robert Vaughan, Richard S. Wheeler, Tom Piccirilli, Ed Gorman, and many others, as well as a classic story from John Jakes, Boot Hill is a unique and powerful collection that captures the wild and bizarre characters that populated the American West.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Boot Hill, edited by Robert J. Randisi (The Gunsmith), takes its name from the cemetery in the notorious Kansas town of Dodge City. With the exception of John Jakes's "The Naked Gun," all the stories were written expressly for this anthology. They include James Reasoner's "The Guns of Dusty Logan," about a pair of pearl-handled revolvers that have a lethal influence on all who possess them, and Randy Lee eikhoff's "Anonymous," in which deadly tensions rise among a group of travelers caught in a snowstorm. Other contributors include elmer Kelton, Robert Vaughn and Richard Wheeler. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
These 15 short stories, each by a different writer (two of them women), narrate how various citizens of mid-19th-century Dodge City came to be planted in Boot Hill cemetery. The contributing authors include Elmer Kelton, James Reasoner, and Robert Vaughn; all but one story (John Jakes's "The Naked Gun") are original. Randisi, an anthologizer and author (his works include "The Gunsmith" series), uses the ingenious device of an anonymous gravedigger, whose identity provides a surprise ending, to comment on and link these stories. From the coffin maker plagued by a death wish to the gunman helped by Wild Bill Hickok to keep thieves from robbing a train, these yarns, each averaging only 20 pages, are packed with vividly described gunplay. Recommended for public libraries and libraries with extensive Western collections. Charles C. Nash, Cottey Coll., Nevada, MO Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
"A unique and powerful collection."-Tulsa World

"These yarns are packed with vividly described gunplay."-Library Journal

"The writers have turned out concise stories that capture the essence of the time and place. Each story has a captivating twist, employing imagery in a refreshing manner. . . . Every writer has produced a jewel."-The Daily Oklahoman

"Elmer Kelton is a Texas treasure, as important for his state as Willa Cather is for Nebraska and Badger Clark for South Dakota. Kelton truly deserves to be made one of the immortals of literature."-El Paso Herald-Post

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765300829
  • Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
  • Publication date: 5/1/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,367,436
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert J. Randisi has edited some twenty anthologies in the Western and mystery genres. He is also the creator and author of the long-running series, The Gunsmith.

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Read an Excerpt


Robert J. Randisi

Don't never sneak up on a feller when he's diggin' a grave!

Sorry, but ya gave me a fright, there. They call me the Gravedigger. Welcome to Boot Hill. Reckon you're a-wonderin' what all the fuss is about, all these holes an' such. Lemme lean on my shovel here, a minute. Backbreakin' work, diggin' graves, but honest. That's what I was lookin' for when I come here in 'seventy-four. By that time Boot Hill already been here two years. Don't know 'zackly why they stuck it up here on this hill. Some say it was ta keep water from gettin' ta them, others so's ever'body could see it from miles around. Mebbe it's even so's the dead could have a good view. All I know is this is the highest point hereabouts. Coulda called it High Point Hill, I guess, but they called it Boot Hill 'cause so many of them that's buried here died with their boots on—usually from violence. 'Course, just 'cause they was shot, or stabbed, or stabbed, or killed some other violent way don't mean they was bad. No, sir. All these dead folks got their own stories to tell—if'n they could tell 'em, that is.

'Course, I reckon I could tell ya some stories, couldn't I? I need me a rest, anyways. Been expectin' some help along now, cain't be diggin' up all these graves by my lonesome. But seein' as how this here is the highest point around and I cain't see nobody comin' up ta help me yet, guess I could take a break for a spell and spin ya a yarn or two. I mean, tell ya what happened to some of these poor folks that's buried up here.

Lemme jest leave my shovel here…I'll wipe off some of my sweat with my bandana…least there's a breeze up here, most times, 'cept in like July or August…now follow me and I'll show ya some of these headstones. None of them is anythin' fancy, ya understand, mostly just some words carved onto some wood we got from breakin up packin' cases an' such. When somebody's gettin' buried up here ain't usually nobody to pay for no fancy stone. 'Sides, we ain't got no stone or marble or nothin' like that ta use, an' bringin' it in from Back East would cost too much. As for the writin' on 'em, sometimes folks jes' put somethin' simple like a feller's name…don't always know when they was born, but you kin usually tell when they died, that's for sure. Other times there's folks who get downright poetical. Lesse…not that one, jes' a date and weren't nothin' interestin' about the way he died…no, not that one, neither. Don't wanna waste yer time with borin' stories, I know you got other things ta do, and I gotta get back ta work sometime…mebbe over here…

Ah! Here's one. Come on, move in around this here marker. Ya see what I mean about the marker, jes' some ol' piece a wood with some writin' on it, but it's kinda pretty writin' and the story behind it's kinda, well, entertainin', I guess you'd say. As you kin see wasn't nobody sure when he was born, but he was planted here even afore I got here and I heard the story from the undertaker himself.

Jes' get on close enough ta read the words yore own self and I'll tell ya what happened…

Copyright © 2002 by Robert J Randisi

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Footprints on the Hill 11
The Gravedigger 19
The Naked Gun 23
The Ghost of Abel Hawthorne 39
Sinners 61
The Guns of Dusty Logan 83
Hard Ground 109
The Comfortable Coffin of Miz Utopia Jones Clay 133
Anonymous 161
The Last Ride of the Colton Gang 183
The Sellers 209
The Piano Man 229
Dead Weight 251
A Disgrace to the Badge 269
Planting Lizzie Palmer 299
A Damned Nuisance 319
Epilogue 349
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