Butch Cassidy the Lost Years: A Novel of the West

( 5 )


On November 3, 1908, in the town of San Vicente, suspected of stealing a mining company payroll, Butch Cassidy was killed in a bloody shootout by the Bolivian Army.

Or was he?

In a small Texas town in 1950, a man from the Pinkerton Detective Agency interrupts an old-timer's daily game of dominos to learn the truth about Butch Cassidy--who is still alive and well and sitting right in front of him. . .

So begins...

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Butch Cassidy the Lost Years

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On November 3, 1908, in the town of San Vicente, suspected of stealing a mining company payroll, Butch Cassidy was killed in a bloody shootout by the Bolivian Army.

Or was he?

In a small Texas town in 1950, a man from the Pinkerton Detective Agency interrupts an old-timer's daily game of dominos to learn the truth about Butch Cassidy--who is still alive and well and sitting right in front of him. . .

So begins the novel of the West's most legendary outlaw--as told by America's master storytellers, William W. Johnstone and J.A.Johnstone. Butch Cassidy The Lost Years reveals the stunning secret behind that infamous shootout in Bolivia that claimed the lives of the Sundance Kid and, allegedly, Butch himself. For years, there were rumors that Cassidy survived. Now, almost half a century later, an old man playing dominos tells the real story of his life and times, legend be damned.

After fleeing South America and informing the beautiful Etta Place that her beloved Sundance is dead, Butch returns to Texas searching for a place to call home. When he comes across a dying rancher who'd been shot by some rustlers, Butch promises to avenge him--and take over the ranch after his death. Assuming the name Jim Strickland, Butch tries to start a fresh new chapter in his life. But even with his old gang gone and his outlaw past behind him, trouble has a way of finding Butch. Cruel injustice--in the form of a corrupt railroad baron--pulls him into the most dangerous train robbery he's ever attempted. But if Butch Cassidy is going to ride again, it'll have to be with a newer, and wilder, Wild Bunch. . .

Filled with page-turning action and authentic historic details, Butch Cassidy The Lost Years is a exciting and fitting tribute to a true American original. Robert LeRoy Parker. Butch to his friends. Mr. Cassidy to those on the business end of his gun.

"Readers of Johnstone's many westerns appreciate his taut writing and good storytelling." --Examiner.com

"Engaging and entertaining." --Spur and Lock on The Brothers O'Brien

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  • Butch Cassidy the Lost Years
    Butch Cassidy the Lost Years  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Old gunslingers never die; they just become biopic subjects and legends. Almost from the first day of the 1908 news reports, informed readers doubted that Butch Cassidy had really died in a gun battle with Bolivian soldiers. Skeptics thought that the outlaw birth-named Robert Leroy Parker had just outwitted and outshot too many lawmen to fall prey to a few army newbies. In this engaging fiction about Butch's post-South American adventures, western tale-spinner William W. Johnstone gives Cassidy the afterlife for which we always hoped. Editor's recommendation.

Publishers Weekly
Johnstone’s irreverent revisionist western picks up in 1914 with famed outlaw Butch Cassidy, long thought killed in Bolivia, working as a cattle rancher in Texas under the name Jim Strickland. Decades later, Cassidy spins his yarn to a Pinkerton detective who admits to liking “a dramatic moment.” Johnstone is a masterful storyteller, creating a tale that is fanciful and funny, exciting and surprisingly convincing: Butch roams Texas in anonymity until an encounter with a dying rancher gives him a chance to go straight. He keeps a low profile and earns a good reputation until deciding to teach a lesson to a railroad that has covered up a death and cheated the dead man’s widow. After robbing a train, Butch finds that he missed the excitement and action, and thinks his new wild bunch of misfits might rob some more. His involvement with a preacher’s daughter is dangerous enough, but a tenacious Pinkerton detective sets a clever trap that results in a showdown between Cassidy and the law. This is great fun, and Johnstone’s lively, crisp style lets Butch say it best: “The truth was never as good as a legend.” Agent: Robin Rue, Writers House. (May)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780758290342
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 4/30/2013
  • Pages: 282
  • Sales rank: 364,326
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Read an Excerpt


By William W. Johnstone, J.A. JOHNSTONE


Copyright © 2013J.A. Johnstone
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7582-9034-2



When I saw the blue norther coming I would have found a place to hole up and wait it out, except there didn't seem to be any such a thing in these parts. It was a damn fool stunt to begin with, starting from San Antonio to El Paso on horseback in December. But I had never spent that much time in Texas, and I wanted to take a gander at some of the country. You hear Texans bragging about the place all the time, as they're in the habit of doing, and after a while you want to see it for yourself.

So I bought a couple of good horses and some supplies, figuring I'd use one of the animals as a packhorse and the other as a saddle mount and switch back and forth between 'em, and set off across country. I figured I'd probably run into some fences along the way, at least until I got farther west, but ... well ... fences have never bothered me all that much, if you know what I mean.

I could've bought a car and driven to El Paso, I suppose—you could do that, even that far back—but while I could handle one of the contraptions if I had to, I'd never been comfortable doing so. The worry that the damned thing might blow up on me always lurked in the back of my mind.

So it was horseback for me, and that's how I came to be out in the middle of nowhere when the sky turned so blue it was almost black and the wind began to howl out of the north, bringing with it a bone-numbing chill. I lowered my head, hunkered deeper in my sheepskin coat, and kept going. Wasn't nothing behind me, so I knew it wouldn't do any good to turn around.

At least it wasn't raining or snowing, even though a thick overcast hung above me. I knew there had to be a ranch house somewhere ahead of me, and if I kept moving I'd find it. I knew that because if there wasn't, I stood a good chance of freezing to death before morning.

The light was starting to fade when I heard popping sounds. With the wind blowing so hard and making such a racket it was hard to be sure, but I thought they might be gunshots. It was hard to tell exactly where they came from, too, but I turned my horses in what I hoped was the right direction.

Now, you may think it was foolish of me, riding toward gunfire rather than away from it, but I looked at it like this: whoever was shooting that gun probably had a place to get in out of the weather, and that was what I needed more than anything else tonight.

The last of the gray light disappeared, and I was left to plod along in darkness. There had been only a handful of shots, and the shortness of the volley could mean almost anything, so I didn't see any real point in speculating about it. Keep going and I might find out, that's the way I looked at it.

My horse stopped short and shied back a step. I said, "Easy there, fella." I couldn't see what had spooked him.

I wasn't carrying a handgun, but I had a Winchester in a scabbard strapped to the saddle. I drew it out and worked the lever to throw a cartridge into the chamber. Then I swung a leg over the saddle and slid to the ground. The packhorse's reins were tied to the saddle horn. I hung on to the reins of the animal I'd been riding as I moved forward cautiously.

It only took a couple of steps to tell me why my horse had stopped. The ground fell away into a gully. I could barely make it out as it twisted across the plains like a snake.

If the gully wasn't too deep and the sides weren't too steep, the horses and I could climb down into it and get out of the wind, at least. I might find enough wood to build a small fire. It was a slender hope but better than nothing. Ever since night fell I'd been looking all around, searching for a yellow pinpoint of light that marked the window of a ranch house but I hadn't seen anything except endless darkness.

I put the rifle back in its sheath and hunkered on my heels at the edge of the gully. I reached into my coat and fished a match from my shirt pocket. It lit when I snapped the head with my thumbnail, but the wind snatched the flame right out. Trying to get one burning up here was just going to be a waste of matches. I slid a foot over the edge and used it to explore the slope. It wasn't a sheer drop-off, so I had hopes of being able to get the horses down there.

The prairie was dotted with mesquite trees, their limbs skeleton-bare at this time of year. I tied the saddle horse's reins to one of them and went back to the edge of the gully. I was going to have to explore it by feel until I got down out of the wind.

I turned around so I was facing the slope and started climbing down. The gully wall was rough enough that there were plenty of places to brace myself. When I got down low enough that my head was out of the wind, the night was still plenty cold but not as breathtakingly raw.

My right foot came down on something soft that let out a loud groan.

I like to think my nerves are pretty steady, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't let out a holler and jump up in the air. When I came down I lost my balance and started rolling.

I was lucky that gully wasn't very deep. I only turned over a couple of times before I hit bottom. Even so, I landed hard enough to knock the wind out of me and send my hat flying.

"What the blue blazes!" I yelled when I got my breath back. I probably said a few things that were worse than that, too, but I disremember.

Whoever or whatever I'd stepped on groaned again.

That pained sound, mixed in with the howl of the wind, gave me the fantods. I sat up and scuttled backward a little, well aware that I'd left my Winchester up on the flat with the horses and cussing myself for doing such a foolish thing. I hadn't expected to find anything in this gully, but I'd been around long enough to know that whatever you expect in life usually ain't what happens.

I didn't know if my companion could answer me or not, but I said, "Who's there?"

The answer came back in a weak voice.

"You have any ... whiskey ... amigo?"

Despite calling me amigo, he didn't sound like a Mexican, but I'd already discovered that in that part of Texas, most people, white and brown alike, spoke a mixture of the two lingos. And as a matter of fact, I did have a flask in my saddlebags. But before I fetched it, I wanted to find out more about what was going on here.

"Are you hurt, old son?" I asked.

The man tried to laugh, but it came out more like a pained grunt.

"You could ... say that. Got a couple of ... bullet holes ... in my guts."

Well, that was bad, and a damned shame to boot. One bullet hole in the belly was enough to kill a man. Two and he was a goner for sure. But I said, "Hold on, I'll see what I can do." I started to crawl toward the sound of his voice, then paused and asked, "You ain't fixin' to shoot me, are you?"

"No reason to," he said. "You ain't ... one of the varmints who shot me. They've long since ... took off for the tall ... and uncut."

I found another match and lit it. This time I was able to keep it going by cupping my hand around the flame, although the wind caused it to dance around quite a bit. The feeble, flickering glow from it revealed a stocky man with a close-cropped white beard lying against the bank like he'd slid part of the way down it. His coat must have hung on something and stopped him. He had both arms crossed over his belly.

A glance over my shoulder told me that the gully was about a dozen feet wide, with a sandy, fairly level bottom. Clumps of brush grew here and there.

"Let me help you lay down, old-timer," I said, "and I'll take a look at those wounds."

"I told you ... I want whiskey. Ain't nothin' you can do ... about the other."

I figured he'd be mor

Excerpted from BUTCH CASSIDY THE LOST YEARS by William W. Johnstone. Copyright © 2013 by J.A. Johnstone. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

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( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 14, 2013

    Another very entertaining tale from the Johnstone's! Well writte

    Another very entertaining tale from the Johnstone's! Well written! 
    Would recommend for ages 12 and up.. 

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2013

    Reviewed by Karen Pirnot for Readers' Favorite Johnstone has do

    Reviewed by Karen Pirnot for Readers' Favorite

    Johnstone has done it again! True to the tradition of great Western novels, "Butch Cassidy, the Lost Years" is a gem. The premise of the novel is: What if Butch Cassidy had lived? And, had he lived, how would his story have played out? Johnstone is so convincing in his tale that most readers will accept the tale as an original and pass it on as fact. Butch, who was known as Robert Leroy Parker by those who truly knew him, had a rich history as an outlaw. He is said to have died in a shootout but the author speculates that while the Sundance Kid died, Butch Cassidy went on to live a rich and fulfilling life. As the story opens, a young man approaches a man named Hank Parker, asking about things he has found in the estate of his grandfather who has researched famous gunslingers. Parker then begins to weave a tale which leaves more questions for the young man than it does answer.

    The story takes place at the turn of the century at about the time of the first World War. It is told in retrospect and is absolutely charming in its detail of the time as well as in the development of the various colorful characters. Parker himself is a highly convincing story teller who just exudes charm and confidence. His sense of adventure combined with a strong sense of poetic justice captivates the reader and leaves us wondering what really separates the good guys from the bad guys. Kudos for another great Western!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2013

    I dont think butch died either. I won a contest and got an advan

    I dont think butch died either. I won a contest and got an advanced copy of this book. It is destined to be a winner if the Johnstone’s decide to make this a new series. I have read many books on Butch but this was really good. I firmly believe he was not killed with Sundance so it does fit into the realm of possibilities. The book flows really well from scene to scene and is very believable. What it does do is open up the way for many more to come. Watch Butch as he does what he does best. It also proves why butch and the kid were so hard to find. Butch inspires loyalty every step of the way and leaves the readers wanting more. I refuse to give away the plot LOL. Trust me tho, you will like it and clamor for more. I hope the Johnstone’s keep most of the same characters. They are great. Oh, and let’s not forget the bad guys. They do get their comeuppance in the end. Run dont walk to the store.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2013


    Not necessarily a western fan but do like Johnstone from time to time. An absolutely fascinating tale. Extremely well written. Kept my attention on every page. The best Johnstone book that I have read. Started it this morning and finished it tonight. Long time since I have dedicated a day just to finish a book. Highly recommend for all ages from about 10 on up. Lots of history and just a bang up good story.
    Central Texas Reader

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2013

    A good book for all ages and genders.

    A super read by a great story teller! One of the few books that's hard to put down till you reach the end.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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