FROM AMERICA’S STORYTELLER: A TREASURY OF HIS GREAT DETECTIVE STORIES
Here is a collection of Louis L’Amour detective stories—vivid tales as memorable and exciting as his beloved frontier fiction. Each story is personally selected and introduced by the author.
In the dark alleys of the pulsing cities and the savage criminal wildernesses, Louis L’Amour introduces a new brand of characters: men like Kip Morgan, the ex-fighter turned detective who is tough enough to bounce a bouncer yet has more up his sleeve than sheer muscle; Joe Ragan, the dedicated career cop who fears nothing in the pursuit of justice; and women whose soft laughter covers their underlying cruelty.
These are fast-moving stories of brawls where if a man goes down and doesn’t get up fast enough he’s through, of flashing knives that whisper death, of guns that blaze their fatal fire through the blackest nights.
From the Paperback edition.
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March 28, 2005
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Excerpt from The Hills of Homicide by Louis L'Amour
THE STATION WAGON jolted over a rough place in the blacktop, and I opened my eyes and sat up. Nothing had changed. When you are in the desert, you are in the desert, and it looks it. We had been driving through the same sort of country when I fell asleep, the big mesa that shouldered against the skyline ahead being the only change.
; "Ranagat's right up ahead, about three, four miles." Shanks, who was driving me, was a thin-faced little man who sat sideways in the seat and steered with his left hand on the wheel. "You won't see the town until we get close."
; "Near that mesa "
; "Right up against it. Small town, about four hundred people when they're all home. Being off the state highway, no tourists ever go there. Nothin' to see, anyway."
; "No boot hill " Nearly all of the little mining towns in this section have a boot hill, and from the look of them, shooting up your neighbors must have been the outstanding recreation in the old days.
; "Oh, sure. Not many in this one, though. About fifteen or twenty with markers, but they buried most of them without any kind of a slab. This boot hill couldn't hold a candle to Pioche. Over there they buried seventy-five before the first one died of natural causes."
; "Rough place."
; "You said it. Speakin' of guys gettin' killed, they had a murder in Ranagat the other night. Old fellow, got more money than you could shake a stick at."
; "Murder, you say "
; "Uh-huh. They don't know who done it, yet, but you needn't worry. Old Jerry will catch him. That's Jerry Loftus, the sheriff. He's a smart old coot, rustled a few cows himself in the old days. He can sling a gun, too. Don't think he can't. Not that he looks like much, but he could fool you."
; Shanks put a cigarette between his lips and lit it with a match cupped in his right hand. "Bitner, his name was. That's the dead man, I mean." He jerked his cigarette toward the mesa. "Lived up there."
; "On top " From where I sat, the wall of sheer, burnt-red sandstone looked impossible to climb. "How'd he get up there "
; "From Ranagat. That's the joker in this case, mister. Only one way up there, an' that way is in plain sight of most of Ranagat, an' goes right by old Johnny Holben's door. Nobody could ever get up that trail without being seen by Johnny.
; "The trail goes up through a cut in the rock, and believe me, it's the only way to get on top. At a wide place in the cut, Johnny Holben has a cabin, an' he's a suspicious old coot. He built there to annoy Bitner because they had it in for each other. Used to be partners, one time. Prospected all this country together an' then set up a company to work their mines. 'Bitner and Holben,' they called it. Things went fine for a while, an' they made a mint of money. Then they had trouble an' split up."
; "Holben kill him "
; "Some folks think so, but others say no. Bitner's got him a niece, a right pretty girl named Karen. She came up here to see him, and two days after she gets here he gets murdered. A lot of folks figure that was a mighty funny thing, her being heiress to all that money, an' everything."
; So there were two other suspects, anyway. That made three. Johnny Holben, Karen Bitner, and my client. "Know a guy named Caronna "
; "Blacky Caronna Sure." Shanks slanted a look at me out of those watchful, curious eyes. I knew he was trying to place me, but so far hadn't an inkling. "You know him "
; "Heard of him." It was no use telling Shanks what I had come for. I was here to get information, not give it.
; "He's a suspect, too. An' in case you don't know, mister, he's not a nice playmate. I mean, you don't get rough with him. Nobody out here knows much about him, an' he's lived in Ranagat for more than ten years, but he's a bad man to fool with. If your business is with him, you better forget it unless it's peaceful."
; "He's a suspect, you say "