Texas Ranger Andy Pickard is assigned what appears to be a routine duty. Donley Bannister, a West Texas horse trader, has killed a thug named Cletus Slocum, who stole one of Bannister’s horses. Ranger Pickard is ordered to find and arrest Bannister and bring him to trial.
The Bannister case turns out to be anything but routine. Pickard picks up Bannister’s trail and finds him holed up with some cohorts who wound and vow to kill the young Ranger. Ironically, Bannister saves Pickard’s life by fending off the would-be killers and taking Andy to a cow camp where his injury can be treated. When he is able to ride, Andy locates and trails Geneva Bannister, Donley’s young wife, hoping she will lead him to the wanted man. The trail takes unexpected turns and detours: Near Fort Concho Andy’s mission is interrupted by an ugly racial incident in which a black soldier is killed; Bannister is shot by outlaw Curly Tadlock and left for dead; and Tadlock brutally assaults Geneva.
Andy Pickard, newly married, still unsure of himself and his choice of Rangering as a career, must unravel this tangled series of events and accomplish his mission of bringing an accused killer to justice.
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Elmer Kelton (1926-2009) was the award-winning author of more than forty novels, including The Time It Never Rained, Texas Standoff and Hard Trail to Follow. He grew up on a ranch near Crane, Texas, and earned a journalism degree from the University of Texas. His first novel, Hot Iron, was published in 1956. Among his awards have been seven Spurs from Western Writers of America and four Western Heritage awards from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. His novel The Good Old Boys was made into a television film starring Tommy Lee Jones. In addition to his novels, Kelton worked as an agricultural journalist for 42 years, and served in the infantry in World War II. He died in 2009.