Having lost a wife to violence and a son to retribution, onetime Texas sheriff Daniel Shaye has brought what remains of his shattered family -- two grown boys fiercely devoted to their father and justice -- to Vengeance Creek, Arizona. In a lawless town, they become the law, grieving for their slain loved ones while looking to start a new life free of further bloodshed. But destiny has other plans for the Shayes.
Eight men ride into town with designs on the bank's money -- and when they ride out, a dozen innocent people are dead and Dan Shaye is down with a gunshot wound. Now it's up to his boys to settle one more score, riding hell for leather toward a final reckoning ... and a mystery.
And if Death comes again for the sons of Daniel Shaye, so be it, because any man who won't lay down his life for what is right is no man at all.
About the Author
Robert J. Randisi is the creator and writer of the popular series The Gunsmith, under the pseudonym “J.R. Roberts.” He is the author of The Sons of Daniel Shaye series and many other western novels written under his own name.
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The Sons of Daniel Shaye
Daniel Shaye wasn't all that sure how he and his sons had come to settle in Vengeance Creek, Arizona. Maybe the name had appealed to them. After the Langer gang had robbed the bank in Epitaph, Texas -- killing Shaye's wife, the boys' mother, during their escape -- they had hunted them down and extracted their vengeance at a heavy cost. The man who had ridden his wife down with a horse had paid with his life, but not before he'd killed another member of the family, Shaye's middle son, Matthew. Vengeance had cost them dearly, so maybe it made sense that they settled some months later in Vengeance Creek.
That had been over a year ago, and now Shaye was the sheriff of Vengeance and his two sons were his deputies. Odd how things happened. Shaye had left his job as sheriff of Epitaph behind, feeling that it had, in part, contributed to the deaths of his wife and son. Arriving in Vengeance Creek penniless and looking for work, he found that the lawman job was open. There had been no election because no one else wanted to run for the office. No one wanted the job. Vengeance Creek had a rowdy populace, and most of them liked the idea of having no lawman.
Shaye recalled discussing the situation with his sons.
"You want to pin on a badge again, Pa?" Thomas had asked. At twenty-six, he was the older of the two remaining sons.
"The way I see it," Shaye had said, "we've got three options, given the skills we have to work with. We can hunt bounty, take up the owl-hoot trail ... or pin on badges again."
"Badges?" James, nineteen, asked. "You mean us too?"
"Well," Shaye said, "if I'm the sheriff, you two will be my deputies. We'll present ourselves to the town council as a package deal. Whataya say, boys?"
Thomas and James exchanged a glance, and then Thomas said, "Why not? What have we got to lose?"
Shaye made his presentation to the town council, and they went for it. He became sheriff, and his two sons became his deputies.
Now, roughly nine months after pinning on the badges for the first time, there was some law and order in town. The "rowdy" element had either straightened up or left. It seemed Shaye's Texas reputation had preceded him, and after he and his boys had handled the first few altercations, the people got the message: You don't step over the line in Dan Shaye's town.
Shaye wondered what the people would think if they knew that in his youth he'd been a gunman named Shaye Daniels, with a reputation in Missouri, Kansas, and the Indian Territory. It was more than likely they wouldn't even recognize the name. But his rep as a lawman -- well, that had spread since the word got out that he hunted down not one, but both Langer brothers, and their whole gang.
Shaye got up from his desk and walked over to the window. He looked out at Vengeance Creek's main street. His boys were out there, making their rounds. Had it been the right thing to do, making them pin badges on again? It had actually been Thomas who killed Ethan Langer, taking revenge for his mother's and brother's deaths. Shaye could see the changes in Thomas, changes that killing another man couldn't help but make. James had changed too.
In fact, they'd all changed since leaving Epitaph to hunt down the Langers, and then leaving again, for good. Maybe, he thought, he should have allowed the boys to make up their own minds about what they wanted to do. Oh, he'd given them a choice, but they knew he wanted them to take this job with him, and they would have died before disappointing him. Perhaps it was time, now, to give them the push to make their own choices about their lives.
Then again, as a young man he'd made his own choice, and it had been the wrong one. Maybe if he'd had the strong hand of a father in his life, it would have been different. But both of his parents had died of a fever, leaving him to make his own way. His boys had lost their mother, but they still had a father around to help them.
It was coming up on a year since their mother and brother had been killed. Maybe it was time to sit down and have a family meeting. They were, after all, men, and men deserved the leeway to make up their own minds ...Vengeance Creek
The Sons of Daniel Shaye. Copyright © by Robert Randisi. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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