Valdez Is Coming

Valdez Is Coming

4.6 9
by Elmore Leonard

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They laughed at Roberto Valdez and then ignored him. But when a dark-skinned man was holed up in a shack with a gun, they sent the part-time town constable to deal with the problem — and made sure he had no choice but to gun the fugitive down. Trouble was, Valdez killed an innocent man. And when he asked for justice — and some money for the dead man's woman …  See more details below


They laughed at Roberto Valdez and then ignored him. But when a dark-skinned man was holed up in a shack with a gun, they sent the part-time town constable to deal with the problem — and made sure he had no choice but to gun the fugitive down. Trouble was, Valdez killed an innocent man. And when he asked for justice — and some money for the dead man's woman — they beat Valdez and tied him to a cross. They were still laughing when Valdez came back. And then they began to die...

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HarperCollins Publishers
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4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.64(d)

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Chapter One

Picture the ground rising on the east side of the pasture with scrub trees thick on the slope and pines higher up. This is where everybody was. Not all in one place but scattered in small groups, about a dozen men in the scrub, the front line, the shooters who couldn't just stand around. They'd fire at the shack when they felt like it, or when Mr. Tanner passed the word, they would all fire at once.

Others were up in the pines and on the road that ran along the crest of the hill, some three hundred yards from the shack across the pasture. Those watching made bets whether the man in the shack would give himself up or get shot first.

It was Saturday and that's why everybody had the time. They would arrive in Lanoria, hear about what happened, and shortly after, head out to the cattle company pasture. Most of the men went out alone, leaving their families in town, though there were a few women who came. The other women waited. And the people who had business in town and couldn't leave waited. Now and then a few would come back from the pasture to have a drink or their dinner and would tell what was going on. No, they hadn't got him yet. Still inside the line shack and not showing his face. But they'd get him. A few more would go out from town when they heard this. Also a wagon from De Spain's went out with whiskey. That's how the saloon was set up in the pines overlooking the pasture. Somebody said it was like the goddam Fourth of July.

Barely a mile from town those going out would hear the gunfire'like a skirmish way over the other side of the woods, thin specksof sound'and this would hurry them. They were careful though, topping the slope, looking across the pasture, getting their bearings, then peering around to see who was there. They would see a friend and ask about this Mr. Tanner, and the friend would point him out.

The man there in the dark suit: thin and bony, not big especially, but looking like he was made of gristle and hard to kill, with a moustache and a thin nose and a dark dusty hat worn over his eyes. That was him. They had heard about Frank Tanner, but not many had ever seen him. He had a place south in the foothills of the Santa Ritas and almost to the border. They said he had an army riding for him, Americans and Mexicans, and that his place was like a barracks except for the women. They said he traded horses and cattle and guns across into Mexico to the revolutionary forces and he had all the riders in case the Federales came down on him; also in case his customers ever decided not to pay. Sure he had at least twenty-five men and he didn't graze a head of beef himself. Where were they? somebody wanted to know. Driving a herd south. That's what he had come here for, cattle; bought them from Maricopa.

Somebody else said he had brought his wife along -- “Goddam, a good-looking young woman, I'll tell you, some years younger than he is” -- and she was waiting for him at the Republic Hotel right now, staying up in his room, and not many people had seen her.

They would look at Mr. Tanner, then across the cattle pasture to the line shack three hundred yards away. It was a little bake-oven of a hut, wood framed and made of sod and built against a rise where there were pines so the hut would be in shade part of the day. There were no windows in the hut, no gear lyng around to show anybody lived there. The hut stood in the sun now with its door closed, the door chipped and splintered by all the bullets that had poured into it and through it.

Off to the right where the pine shapes against the sky rounded and became willows, there in the trees by the creek bed, was the man's wagon and team. In the wagon were the supplies he'd bought that morning in Lanoria before Mr. Tanner spotted him.

Out in front of the hut about ten or fifteen feet there was something on the ground. From the slope three hundred yards away nobody could tell what it was until a man came who had field glasses. He looked up and said, frowning, it was a doll: one made of cloth scraps, a stuffed doll with buttons for eyes.

“The woman must have dropped it,” somebody said.

“The woman?” the man with the field glasses said.

A Lipan Apache woman who was his wife or his woman or just with him. Mr. Tanner hadn't been clear about that. All they knew was that there was a woman in the hut with him and if the man wanted her to stay and get shot that was his business.

A Mr. Beaudry, the government land agent for the county, was there. Also Mr. Malson, manager of the Maricopa Cattle Company, and a horsebreaker by the name of Diego Luz, who was big for a Mexican but never offensive and who drank pretty well.

Mr. Beaudry, nodding and also squinting so he could picture the man inside the line shack, said, “There was something peculiar about him. I mean having a name like Orlando Rincón.”

“He worked for me,” Mr. Malson said. He was looking at Mr. Tanner. “I mistrusted him and I believe that was part of it, his name being Orlando Rincón.”

“Johnson,” Mr. Tanner said.

“I hired him two, three times,” Mr. Malson said. “For heavy work. When I had work you couldn't pay a white man to do.”

“His name is Johnson,” Mr....

Valdez Is Coming. Copyright © by Elmore Leonard. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Valdez Is Coming 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
MikeBarton More than 1 year ago
This is Elmore Leonard's seminal western classic. If you read only one western, this should be it. It is written in a completely believable manner, with an eye to detail that is deceptively spare. His characters, both good and bad, are presented in a style that is uniquely Leonard, compelling without excess or extraneous detail. The plot is well developed and moves very fast to a trilling ending.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Valdez is just a Mexican they use to solve their problems. When he kills the wrong man and believes the widow deserves compensation, he is beaten and left for dead. Valdez comes back to teach them a lesson.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a good classic written by one of the best authors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KsDave More than 1 year ago
It takes Valdez a while to get moving. The character that is. He's too nice for most of the book but then he shows some spunk and sparkle.
OlneyOgre More than 1 year ago
If you enjoyed the movie starring Burt Lancaster , you will like this book. A fan of westerns, I was curiuos how several movie scenes are described in the book. The movie is an accurate portrayal of the book. Elmore Leonard kept me interested and wanting to know what would happen next to Bob Valdez. The book delves deeper into Valdez's military and romantic history. Valdez is a character to root for, while his opponents come off as bullies, philanderers and weaklings quite bored with their lot in life. I enjoyed Leonard's detailed descrptions of the scenery and locales. This is a good story of one man standing up against a strong community of men to gain a reward for a victim of violent crime.
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