In this sequel to Valley of Fire, Micah Bishop, stranded in the Mojave Desert, is about to cash in his chips for good when he's rescued by an unlikely savior. Whip Watson is hand-delivering two dozen brides to the silver boom town of Calico, California, where miners are going loco for companionship.
But Micah doesn't know that Whip has some killer competition. Candy Crutchfield is racing to get to Calico first with her own maids-in-waiting. Neither Watson nor Crutchfield is going to back down, and both are willing to kill to beat the competition.
Now Micah is going to find out just how far he'll go for a buck. Because these "wives" aren't what they seem. And they're about to be delivered staring into a living hell.
True West: "Mojave (Pinnacle, $6.99), one of the better Western novels to come along in years, is proof that author Johnny D. Boggs is indeed one of the top writers of this genre."
Get stuck in that fire pit, without horse, canteen, or the good Lord’s mercy (or some poor, dumb son of a bitch to rob) and, quite honestly, there ain’t much for a sinner to do. Except stick that Spiller & Burr in your mouth, and let a .36-caliber ball put you out of your misery. Which is what I was about to do – would have done, in fact – excepting that I had no powder, balls, or percussion caps. Did I mention that a Spiller & Burr is an old relic from the late War of the Rebellion, and even way back then Rebels never had much use for them thumb-busters, and bluecoats knowed better than to shoot them? Least, that’s what the one-eyed cur told me after I won the pistol from him with one damned fine bluff, convincing him that I had a straight against his pair of kings showing when all I really had was queen high. Besides, tired and parched as I was, plumb out of my sun-fried head, I doubted if I had strength to cock that revolver even if I had the ammunition.
Like as not, you’ve likely read that story about that California Gold Rush gambler that this gent named Twain or Hart or maybe it was Dickens wrote where this gambler gets hisself caught in a blizzard and sits down beside a tree and puts a bullet through his own heart, saying his luck has run out. I ain’t read it, but there’s this gal from some hifalutin society who the warden fetches into Folsom, and she’s read it a time or two to some of us more literary-inclined inmates not being punished on the rock pile. It’s a right fair story. Only that gambler never had it so good. He was in a blizzard, where it’s cold and wet. Wasn’t frying in a furnace with vultures just waiting for fresh supper.
My luck really played out about the time I won that Spiller & Burr. I had sat down inside this bucket of blood near Beal’s Crossing on the Colorado River. The Army boys still soldiered at Fort Mojave, and, seeing how I wasn’t wanted for nothing in Arizona Territory, I had lighted out that way to make my pile.
The name’s Bishop, Micah Bishop. The time I tell about, I was around thirty or thirty-one years of age. I’ve never been rightly certain on account that I got brung up and educated and my knuckles rapped by the Sisters of Charity in an orphanage in Santa Fe. Course, I can’t go back to New Mexico Territory. Truth be told, if it weren’t for a couple of nuns who figured my hide was worth saving, I’d be buried face-down in some potters field in Las Vegas with a noose still wrapped around my neck. So I was done with New Mexico Territory. Same as I was shed of Missouri, where I’d also had to kill a body. And in the Indian Nations. And there was even those down in the great state of Texas that would like to see me hanging from what passes for a tree in that country. Not for killing. No, sir. No, the late Big Tim Pruett, a gent I rode with for a spell, once warned me never shoot no Texan, because there will be more Texans coming after you, and there’s just too many Texans to kill. But I did admire the horses they breed down in that great Lone Star State, and I sometimes wound up selling some where the legality of a bill of sale I’d forged might could have been called into question.
Anyhow, since I got freed from that stinking dungeon in Las Vegas, I’d rode out of New Mexico and come to Arizona, and pret’ soon set myself up dealing faro, Spanish Monte and stud poker for them soldier-boys at Fort Mojave. Won a right smart of money. Then a worthless Spiller & Burr .36. Only a short while after that, some of them infantry boys begun to question how come luck favored me so much and the methods I was using when I was dealing.
Well, you’ve heard that sad story. Least I have, often enough, here in Folsom. Honest gambler gets called a cheat. Harsh words get spoke. Some fools pull their pistols, and they ain’t no twenty-something-year-old relics, but long-barreled, center-firing Colts, Remingtons, or Smith & Wessons.
Next thing I knowed, having gotten out of that stinking adobe gambling den with only a bullet hole through the crown of my hat, I was forcing the ferry man at the crossing to fetch me into California, muy pronto, while still trading lead with them infantry boys whose lousy shooting made a body wonder how in hell we had preserved the Union, freed the slaves, and whipped the Mojave and Paiute Indians.
Well, it was pitch dark. And, like me, them soldiers had been drinking a mite, and the misnamed Honest Abe Rohrbough didn’t serve nothing but the worst forty-rod rotgut he brewed hisself at that gambling palace.
Suffice to say that I made it across the Colorado River and into California ...
Closing my eyes, I decided that this was a good place and time to die.
Turned out, it sure was. Because instead of dying alone in the middle of the Mojave, I was plucked back into the living world by a gent called Whip Watson.
Course, now that I have time – five to seven years, the judge told me – to think about how things played out, I’ve studied on that bit of fortune. How I was to ride with Whip Watson, how I was to come right smack between him and another freighter named Candy Crutchfield, how an oriental princess named Jingfei, which means “Quiet Not,” and a passel of mail-order brides, was to come into my life. How I was played for a fool, flayed, flimflammed, flummoxed, flaxed out, and, finally, incarcerated here at Folsom.
Hell, I’d have been better off had I just died out in the Mojave Desert.