The Man from Boot Hill

( 2 )


The first book in the Boot Hill series, a hybrid of Unforgiven and Six Feet Under.

Nick Graves is a Mourner. His profession is to arrange funerals and organize gatherings for wakes as well as hangings, supplementing his meagre income by making coffins. He has come to this job, a profession he learned from his father, after years making his living with a fast draw and a cool nerve. Now he wants to forget his past, forget the destruction he has ...

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The first book in the Boot Hill series, a hybrid of Unforgiven and Six Feet Under.

Nick Graves is a Mourner. His profession is to arrange funerals and organize gatherings for wakes as well as hangings, supplementing his meagre income by making coffins. He has come to this job, a profession he learned from his father, after years making his living with a fast draw and a cool nerve. Now he wants to forget his past, forget the destruction he has caused by assuming a simple life and a quiet vocation.

But the job he takes in new town also includes some old problems. The town is stocked full of corrupt men, men who will make it very difficult for Nick to continue the family trade, men who will force him to return to his old profession, when he created corpses instead of cared for them.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781410464880
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 4/9/2014
  • Series: Boot Hill , #1
  • Edition description: Large Print
  • Pages: 417
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Marcus Galloway makes his home in Nebraska, where he is hard at work on his next novel.

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First Chapter

The Man From Boot Hill

Chapter One

Outside of Jessup, Nebraska

It was autumn. Not only that, but it was far enough into autumn that the wind carried the steely edge of winter upon its breath as it raced over the withered weeds and through the barren branches that stuck up from the Nebraska plains like uneven stubble on an old man's chin. The sky was wide and gray, streaked with clouds that hardly seemed to move no matter how long he stared at them. Instead, they hung like cobwebs from the rafters of his father's woodshed, only stirring occasionally when a big enough wind rolled through.

That wind tore through his body as well, chilling the blood in his veins and causing his muscles to tense. Gritting his teeth, he clenched the reins in his fists and gave them a little snap, causing the two mismatched horses to quicken their pace toward the distant town. Adjusting naturally to the bumps in the road, Nicolai shifted as the wagon jostled beneath and around him. The clattering of the wheels upon the rocky trail had combined with the rattle of his equipment in the back to form a constant flow of noise that he'd stopped hearing long ago.

Looking up, he saw the Nebraska plains stretching out in every direction like a drabcolored quilt that the good Lord had laid down in front of him. Nicolai grinned as his father's words drifted through his mind.

"There isn't much," Stasys had said when referring to the American prairie. "But at least there's no sea."

Nodding, Nicolai snapped the reins and thought about just how true that was. To someone who didn't like the sea or even the coast, Nebraska was something close to paradise. The land was flat and in some places barren, but it was as far from the seacoast as a man could get. The only thing to break up his view of the rolling prairie was the town that lay directly ahead of him.

That town would be Jessup, Nebraska. Either that, Nicolai thought, or he owed a good beating to the man who'd given him directions to the place before he'd left Iowa. Supposedly, Jessup was a nice enough place. Not that it mattered, of course. His visit there wasn't exactly for pleasure. He had some business to tend to in Jessup. Some of it was new, and some of it was so old that it had started to rot in the back of Nicolai's mind.

From the bits and pieces he'd put together, Nicolai knew a man he'd been after for some time was in Jessup. Of course, the town was more than just a hiding place. He had heard there was more than one saloon and enough restaurants to give him a wide variety of meals during his stay. One thing Nicolai couldn't stand was a town that served up bland food. He'd had enough of that when he was a boy. Stasys was a good man and a great provider, but there were only so many ways to boil potatoes.

Also, Jessup was one of the smaller stops on the local gambler's circuit. Playing cards was another one of Nicolai's requirements for a town, and he was already looking forward to sitting down to a good, solid game. As luck would have it, he was also fairly certain an acquaintance of his had already found his way to Jessup, and Nicolai was looking forward to possibly catching up on old times.

Jessup had also appealed to him because the place was in need of a man of his particular talents. According to the Iowan he'd spoken to, Jessup was starting to develop a rotten air to it. That was due to two things. First of all, there was a problem with some gunmen who'd also taken a liking to the town's food and card games. Like most men trying to make themselves look tougher than average, those men weren't shy about backing up their tempers with the occasional bit of lead.

Every so often even the drunkest shooter got lucky and those chunks of lead found their way into live targets. Unfortunately, one of those live targets had been Jessup's resident grave digger. From what Nicolai had heard, the poor fool was doing his job while some other local was visiting a fresh mound of dirt in the cemetery. Since that grieving man was still on someone else's shit list, a fight broke out and everyone in front of the killer wound up buried in that same cemetery ... including the unfortunate grave digger.

Nicolai didn't know every last detail and he didn't much care. All he knew was that Jessup was in need of a strong worker, and he was looking to put his newly inherited wagon to good use. He figured he'd learn whatever else he needed once he got to Jessup and started asking around. Since bad news and dirty gossip traveled like a greased log through a plume, Nicolai had no doubts that he would become an expert on the grave digger's story before he even asked for the dead man's job.

It seemed to be a nice bit of luck that two such good opportunities had presented themselves within the space of one town. Then again, just how good that luck truly was depended on who you asked. There was bound to be someone who wouldn't find it anything close to good.

"Come on now, Rasa," Nicolai said as he snapped the rein that stretched over the first horse's back. "No time to get tired. We're almost there. You don't see Kazys acting lazy, do you?"

Both horses nodded their heads and quickened their pace a little. Nicolai passed the time by conversing with the two animals. Although the talk was one-sided, it occupied his thoughts enough to make the last leg of his trip speed away.

The Man From Boot Hill. Copyright © by Marcus Galloway. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Worth a read

    Mortician and 'Man With A Past' Nick Graves rides into the town of Jessup, Nebraska and is immediately accosted by a would-be robber. The stick-up man winds up dead and Nick discovers that the man was a deputy.

    This is just the beginning of Marcus Pelegrimas' (writing as Marcus Galloway) entertaining western The Man from Boot Hill. The plot quickly becomes complicated, bringing in the corrupt sheriff's department and a mysterious stranger who is living in the town's jail.

    Despite what I've written above, The Man from Boot Hill isn't one of those westerns that reads more like a mystery. This is a western through and through. The plot is generally advanced at the point of a gun rather than by stumbled upon clues.

    Nick Graves (don't worry, the too cute surname is explained in the prologue) was an interesting character. Though he's as handy with a gun as any other western hero, there's a humility about him that is unusual for the stereotype. I don't want to say that he's soft, as he is not in any way. But he at least comes across as someone who could function in a town. He doesn't automatically punch/shoot anyone that crosses his path and at the same time is not portrayed as a saint.

    We get snippets of Nick's checkered past sprinkled through the course of the novel, though this being the first book in a series, not everything is revealed. That's to be expected of course, but I wonder if maybe a little too much was left out. At one point Nick mentions that his past will never leave him alone. Yet all that we have been told about his past was resolved by the end of the book. Maybe just a mention of others seeking vengeance against him would have helped me understand why he feels so hunted.

    In the previous books of his that I'd read I noticed that Marcus Pelegrimas is weak in describing action scenes and that is the case here. For instance, there is a vital (and violent) confrontation that takes place in an alley. Often in the description of the close quarters fistfights, things would get muddled. I think he may be trying to describe too many fine details in his brawls, making them clunky to read.

    The book runs about four hundred pages and the pace is somewhat leisurely. It doesn't ever feel like it is dragging or padded, but whittling down the page count would probably have helped tighten things up making the book more of a page turner.

    Still, I did like the book overall. It wasn't as good as the last western I'd read by this author: Death of a Bad Man, but was an enjoyable read anyway. I have picked up the rest of the series and will read them. And I have to give an extra half a star to any western that manages to wrap up its story with a duel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2004


    Nicolai Graves drove his wagon in from the western plains to the town of Jessup, Nebraska. It seems Jessup had a need for a man of Nick's talent, a coffin maker, grave digger and a Mourner. Previously Nick's tool of trade had been a gun. But even a man with a gnarled hand can be a dangerous man with a gun. Before Nick progress's to far into the town of Jessup, he is confronted by one of the town's deputies who was planning on shaking Grave's down. Jed Avery, a local farmer comes to Nick's aid. Words were exchanged, gunfire eruptes and when the smoke had cleared, the deputy lay dead in the street. Nick next makes his way to Dan Callum's funeral parlor. Sheriff Corey Manes hears about the shooting and can not believe a farmer could have shot down his deputy. In the funeral parlor, Nick has a run in with two more of Manes deputies. Graves is getting the picture of what is taking place in Jessup. But Nick is not in Jessup by chance. He was hoping to meet a man there. Graves instead met Nathan Skinner, another man from the past he was trying to forget. Nathan is a man who kills for pleasure. Using a Bowie Knife, Skinner carves up two men from the Porter House Resteraunt who are attempting to protect co-worker Catherine Winters. In his short stay in Jessup, Nick has been shot at and beaten by Skinner and Manes. Will Jessup be Nick's last stop and will he be able to start a new life with Catherine? Or will Nick end up in a grave on Boot Hill along side the other victims of Manes? THE MAN FROM BOOT HILL IS AN EXCITING new western series. Marcus Galloway is a new talent with a bright future in the western genera. DIN'T MISS THE MAN FROM BOOT HILL. Les

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