The Last Gunfighter In his acclaimed Mountain Man novels, master storyteller William W. Johnstone created a boldly authentic series that captures the vanishing American frontier. Now, he begins an exciting new chapter in the history of that frontier with the Last Gunfighter - a groundbreaking series that weaves together tales of warriors and outlaws, lawmen and adventures, and the innocents caught in between. Ghost Valley Outlaws have taken Frank Morgan's son, and with all the good gunfighting men either dead or dying, Morgan knows he'll be riding after the kidnappers alone. But just as he gets close to the men he's hunting, he comes upon a ghost town nestled into the Rocky Mountain valley. For Morgan, the mystery of what happened to the town - and of the deadly spirit that haunts it - has to take second fiddle to what's brought him this far. Determined to free his son, he'll lure his enemies to this godforsaken place, where amidst the ghosts, the gunfighters, and the gunsmoke, hell make sure the killing is real.
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March 01, 2001
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Excerpt from The Last Gunfighter: Ghost Valley by William W. Johnstone
Frank Morgan rode into Glenwood Springs in Colorado Territory late in the afternoon, following the trail of Victor Vanbergen and Ned Pine, the outlaw leaders who had held his son, Conrad, for ransom. Conrad was safe now, after Frank's deadly encounter with two outlaw gangs. He'd left a trail of blood and graves in his wake to free his boy, but the business wasn't finished until Vanbergen and Pine paid for their mistake.
Frank had given up his old ways, the gunfighting trade, years earlier, but when his boy was taken prisoner by Pine and Vanbergen, he had opened an old trunk he kept under his bed and cleaned both of his pistols. There were some things even a peace-loving man couldn't tolerate.
He stopped his horse at a weed-choked cemetery near the edge of town when he saw an old man standing near the wrought-iron fence around the grave markers. Frank's brown dog growled. The old fellow turned around and gave him a look.
"Howdy," Frank said. He silenced Dog with a sharp whistle.
The man nodded. "You're a stranger to these parts," he said. "I reckon you came to see the famous Doc Holliday."
"That's not why I'm here," Frank replied. "I've heard about Holliday and the OK Corral shootings down in Tombstone. I didn't know he was here in Glenwood Springs."
"He came here to die. He's got consumption."
"I didn't know," Frank told him.
"We've got us a sanitarium in town. Lots of folks used to come here to take them hot mineral baths. Makes 'em live longer, or so I hear. This place is nearly a ghost town now.
"Holliday's almost dead, but he gets visitors from time to time who want to see what he looks like. There was this story in the Glenwood Springs Herald about how Doc Holliday used to be a dentist. He had this unusual sign above his office. I seen a tintype of it."
"What did the sign say that was so interesting?" Frank wanted to know.
The old man frowned. "It went somethin' like this, that if satisfaction with my dental work ain't given, your money will be given back."
Frank chuckled, then got back to the business at hand. "I'm looking for a couple of men who passed this way. They had some other men with them. One's name is Ned Pine, and the other is Victor Vanbergen."
"Hell, stranger, damn near everybody in these parts knows Ned Pine. He's a killer, wanted by the law. Are you some kind of lawman?"
"You're sure packin' a lot of iron on that horse. A rifle an' a shotgun."
Frank ignored the remark. He also carried a pistol under his coat that the man apparently hadn't noticed. "Have you seen Pine around this town lately?"
"No, sir, I sure ain't."
Frank was distracted when he saw a figure in the shadows of a tree at the back of the cemetery. "Who is that?" he asked as he opened his coat for a better reach toward his gun if the need arose.
"Who are you talkin' about, mister?" the old man asked when he stared across the fence.
"That man. . . he looks like an Indian." Frank pointed to the back of the cemetery. Dog growled again, fur rigid on his back.
"There ain't nobody there."
Frank saw the figure move away from the back fence of the graveyard. "There he goes now, the fella with long hair dressed in a buckskin shirt. He's walking into that stand of pines behind the fence."