The Law at Randadoby Elmore Leonard
Phil Sundeen thinks Deputy Sheriff Kirby Frye is just a green local kid with a tin badge. And when the wealthy cattle baron's men drag two prisoners from Frye's jail and hang them from a high tree, there's nothing the untried young lawman can do about it. But Kirby's got more grit than Sundeen and his hired muscles bargained for. They can beat the boy and humilate… See more details below
Phil Sundeen thinks Deputy Sheriff Kirby Frye is just a green local kid with a tin badge. And when the wealthy cattle baron's men drag two prisoners from Frye's jail and hang them from a high tree, there's nothing the untried young lawman can do about it. But Kirby's got more grit than Sundeen and his hired muscles bargained for. They can beat the boy and humilate him, but they can't make him forget the jog he has sworn to do. The cattleman has money, fear, and guns on his side, but Kirby Frye's the law in this godforsaken corner of the Arizona Territories. And he'll drag Sundeen and his killers straight to hell himself to prove it.
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The Law at Randado
At times during the morning, he would think of the man named Kirby Frye. The man who had brought him here. There had been others, most of them soldiers, but he remembered by name only the one called Frye. He had known him before and it had been a strange shock to see him last night.
Most of the time, though, Dandy Jim stood at the window of the upstairs jail cell and watched the street below in the cold sunlight and tried not to think of anything.
He would see riders walking their horses, then flat-bed wagons—most often with a man and woman on the seat and children at the back end with their legs swinging over the tailgate—and now and then a man leading a pack mule. They moved both ways along the street that appeared narrower from above with the ramadas making a shadow line along the building fronts.
Saturday morning and the end of a trail drive brings all kinds to town. The wagon people, one-loop ranchers and their families who would be on their way home before dark. A few prospectors down out of the Huachucas who would drink whisky while their money lasted, then buy some to take if their credit was good. And the mounted men, most of them on horses wearing the Sun-D brand—a D within a design that resembled a crudely drawn flower though it was meant to be a sunburst-men back from a month of trail driving, back from pushing two thousand cows up the San Rafael valley to the railhead at Willcox, twenty days up and ten back and dust all the way, but strangely not showing the relief of having this now behind them. They rode silently, and men do not keep within themselves with a trail drive just over andstill fresh in their minds.
Dandy Jim knew none of this, neither the day nor why the people were here. Earlier, he had watched the street intently. When he first opened his eyes, finding himself on the plank floor and not knowing where he was, he had gone to the window and looked out, blinking his eyes against the cold sunlight and against the throbbing in the back of his head that would suddenly stab through to above his eyes.
But the street and the store fronts told him only that this was no Sonoita or Tubac or Patagonia, because he had been to those places. Now he looked out of the window because there was nothing else to do, still not understanding what he saw or remembering how he came here.
Dandy Jim was Coyotero Apache; which was the reason he did not understand what he saw. The throbbing in his head was from tulapai; and only that much was he beginning to remember.
His Coyotero name was Tloh-ka, but few Americans knew him by that. He had been Dandy Jim since enlisting as a tracker with the 5th Cavalry. They said he was given the name because he was a favorite with the men of the "Dandy 5th" and they called him Jim, then Dandy Jim to associate him with the regiment, because to say Tloh-ka you had to hold your tongue a certain way and just to call an Apache wasn't worth all that trouble. Tloh-ka was handsome, by any standards; he was young, his shoulder-length hair looked clean even when it was not, and his appearance was generally better than most Apaches. That was another reason for his name.
He slept again for a short time, lying on his stomach on the bunk, a canvas-covered wooden frame and an army blanket, but better than the floor. He opened his eyes abruptly when he heard the footsteps, but did not move his face from the canvas.
Through the bars he saw two men in the hallway. One was fat and moved slowly because of it. He carried something covered over with a cloth. The other was a boy, he saw now, carrying the same thing and he stayed behind the large man, moving hesitantly as afraid to be up here where the cells were.
As they came to his cell the Coyotero closed his eyes again. He heard the door being opened. There was whispering, then a voice said, "Go on, he's asleep." Dandy Jim opened his eyes. The boy was setting a dishtowel-covered tray in the middle of the floor. As the boy stood up he glanced at the Coyotero. Their faces were close and the boy looked suddenly straight into the open black eye that did not blink.
"Harold!" The boy backed away.
"What's the matter?"
"He's awake!" The boy was in the hallway now.
"We let them do that," the fat one who was called Harold said, and locked the door again.
They went to the other cell and the boy took the tray while Harold unlocked the door. The boy went in quickly and put the tray on the floor, not looking at the two Mexicans who were lying on the bunks. The door slammed and they were moving down the hall again. Dandy Jim could hear the boy whispering, then going down the stairs Harold was telling him something.
The Coyotero sat up and ate the food: meat and bread. There was coffee, too, and after this he felt better. The throbbing in his head was a dull pain now and less often would it shoot through to his eyes. The food removed the sour, day-old taste of tulapai from his mouth and this he was more thankful for than the full feeling in his stomach. And now he was beginning to remember more of what had happened.The Law at Randado. Copyright © by Elmore Leonard. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Excellent work from Mr. Leonard. I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys the Western genre; or the continuing literary ensemble from a great author.
Starts a bit shaky but gets better fast. Well done in many ways.
I've been hooked on Elmore Leonard since the early 90's and I've been hooked on his westerns for the last few years. I have never read another western. I have a Zane Grey book or two that I haven't gotten around to reading yet and Elmore's westerns have got me thinking about trying some other authors in this genre. While I didn't find this book as good as The Bounty Hunters I thought it was still a great action filled story. Like with almost all Elmore Leonard stories, be they crime or western, the dialog and internal thoughts of the characters drives the action. Mr. Leonard is a master of the show, don't tell style of writing. The characterization is typical of the westerns I've read. Very little back story or psychological analysis, which is the way I like it. The villains aren't stereotypical, one dimensional. The ringleader does what he does because he's a bully; there isn't really any more motivation than that. The few followers he has are just swept up in the moment and later come to regret it. I found this very true to life. The heroes are just competent men doing the right thing. Oddly enough I didn't find as much of Elmore Leonard's particular style present in this book as in the earlier Bounty Hunters (his first novel). While it was still better than most books I didn't find it as flat out exhilarating as The Bounty Hunters. It was a great read though.