The valley of death just got worse…
Skye Fargo is riding through Death Valley when he comes across two bullet-riddled men. One lives long enough to point Fargo towards a cabin where an ex-federal marshal and his family lay butchered. But a prospector and a lovely lady survived the massacre.
Mad Dog Burton and his gang came to the cabin to avenge the hanging of his brother, who the late marshal apprehended. He knows there are witnesses to the slaughter, and he’s not going to stop until they’re dead. But the Trailsman is about to show Mad Dog a different view of Death Valley—from beyond the grave…
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Rena asked, “Mad Dog and his gang—will they be back?”
Fargo folded his arms across his chest, watching her from shrewd eyes. Finally he twitched his shoulders. “How long is a piece of string? If they think you witnessed the murders, hell yes, they’ll be back.”
“And you, Mr. Fargo?” she pressed, baiting him with her smile. “What are your plans?”
Fargo turned that problem back and forth for a full minute.
“I’ve got bodies to bury,” he replied. “And since I knew Matt, I won’t be leaving until those killers are put down like the rabid curs they are.”
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First published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library,
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First Printing, February 2007
The first chapter of this book previously appeared in Terror Trackdown, the three
hundred third volume in this series.
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Beginnings . . . they bend the tree and they mark the man. Skye Fargo was born when he was eighteen. Terror was his midwife, vengeance his first cry. Killing spawned Skye Fargo, ruthless, cold-blooded murder. Out of the acrid smoke of gunpowder still hanging in the air, he rose, cried out a promise never forgotten.
The Trailsman they began to call him all across the West: searcher, scout, hunter, the man who could see where others only looked, his skills for hire but not his soul, the man who lived each day to the fullest, yet trailed each tomorrow. Skye Fargo, the Trailsman, the seeker who could take the wildness of a land and the wanting of a woman and make them his own.
Death Valley, California, 1861—where a
beautiful woman’s treachery is as deadly
as an evil man’s bullets.
Skye Fargo heard the screams from a half mile off, the high-pitched, almost feminine screams of a man who was suffering the worst hurt in the world. Fargo recognized the sound and knew it was pointless to charge recklessly forward—the poor soul was past all help.
The Trailsman, as some called Fargo, gigged his black-and-white pinto stallion forward, lake blue eyes ever vigilant in the brittle afternoon sunlight and furnace heat. He was traversing the upper end of California’s Death Valley, bearing toward Grapevine Canyon, which led down from the bleak and jagged mountains. Even down low in the dry creek wash he was following, winds whipped billows of sand, salt, and grit into his face and eyes.
More piercing, scalp-tingling screams from ahead raised the fine hairs on Fargo’s arms. His nervous Ovaro whiplashed his head.
“Steady, old campaigner,” Fargo calmed him, patting his neck. “He’s about to go over the mountains, and we might, too, if we get careless.”
Fargo was crop-bearded and wore fringed buckskin shirt and trousers, a tall, broad-shouldered man cut down to puny size by the sheer vastness of this sterile, 150-mile-long trough. Death Valley was walled by rock outcrops and surrounded on all sides by eastern California’s merciless desert.
Fargo had only to climb a little higher, however, for a magnificent view of the Sierra Nevadas and their capes of dazzling white snow. But even a naked woman couldn’t have distracted him from the horrific screams as he rode around a hill of black slag and two bodies eased into view.
The bridle-wise Ovaro stopped when Fargo tossed the reins forward. He swung his right foot over the cantle and landed light as a cat, sliding his brass-framed Henry from its boot. Fargo’s sun-slitted eyes searched the rock-salt bed of the valley, but nothing moved except a few wisps of white-gauze cloud far overhead. There was nothing there that might move, for very little life existed in this wasteland.
“Aww, Jee-zus, it hurts!” screeched the one man who still clung to life. “Aww, God, it’s pure fire!”
Both men had gotten in front of a bullet, the dead man a shot through the heart, the screamer a bullet low in the guts—even in cities with doctors a gutshot was fatal, much less out here in the most arid, barren region of the West. Each man had been shot at such close range his shirt caught on fire from the powder burn.
“Mister,” begged the dying man when he spotted Fargo. He was a young man with an honest face. “I know I’m dead. But, God A’mighty, some water first.”
“Sure wish I could do more, friend.”
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