From the corner of my eye, I saw the little pistol flash up in the girl’s hand. Immediately recognized the weapon as a New Line .32-caliber pocket pistol.

For reasons I could not have explained to God, or anyone else, afterward, the fact that Clementine Webb had the barrel of a loaded weapon pressed to the end of the dying Roscoe Pickett’s nose just didn’t register with me for about half a second. When it finally dawned on me what was about to occur, I made an awkward, squatting lunge at the miniature shooter just as the gun went off. Burning powder singed my fingers when they wrapped around the weapon’s tiny cylinder.

The little gal’s well-aimed bullet hit Roscoe right in the mouth. A searing chunk of peanut-sized lead knocked all his front teeth out, carved a tunnel through the soft tissue at the back of his throat, and blasted its way through a spot in his neck just below the skull bone . . .

“Damnation, girl,” I yelped, then flicked a glance at Roscoe Pickett’s shattered teeth, blasted skull, and sagging corpse. I shook my head in total disbelief, then locked Clementine in a narrow, steely gaze and added, “You’ve grown a mighty thick layer of hard bark around your heart since this morning, darlin’.”

Praise for J. LEE BUTTS

“J. Lee Butts keeps his readers on the edge of their seats.”

True West

“A writer who can tell a great adventure story with authority and wit.”—John S. McCord, author of the Baynes Clan novels

“One of the top writers of Westerns working in the genre today.” —Peter Brandvold, author of Helldorado

“Lawdog has it all. I couldn’t put it down.”

—Jack Ballas, author of A Town Afraid

“J. Lee Butts is one fine Western writer whose stories have a patina of humor; nonstop action . . . and a strong sense of place.”

Roundup Magazine

For My Wife, Carol

I am daily inspired by her strength, tenacity,

determination, and will to survive.


For My Good Friend Linda McKinley

Perhaps my most enthusiastic cheerleader,

collaborator, and critic. She made me a better writer.

This is one of the few efforts I’ve produced

that doesn’t have Linda’s fingerprints on it,

along with her cat’s tracks.

I will miss her more than mere words can tell.

O! My offense is rank, it smells to heaven;

It hath the primal eldest curse upon’t,

a brother’s murder.

—Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 3

The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

—Proverbs 4:18

What charm can soothe her melancholy?

What art can wash her guilt away?

—The Vicar of Wakefield


Special tip of the sombrero and bow at the waist for Sandy Harding. Perhaps the most personable and amiable editor I’ve had the pleasure to work with. And many thanks to Faith Black for her stellar help with this particular piece of work. Muchas gracias to Roxanne Blackwell Bosserman. She helped start me down this rugged trail years ago and still shouts encouragement from the sidelines when I appear ready to falter. And, as mentioned on the previous page, especially to my friend Linda McKinley. Not sure what I’m going to do without her editorial skills, advice, and willingness to spend hours discussing my writing. We made a good team. She’s gone on ahead to scout the great unknown. I miss her every time I sit down at the computer.

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