The Adventures of Johnny Vermillion

Loren D. Estleman

Forge Books

Johnny Vermillion’s theater troupe brings masterpieces to the Wild West. The four actors are versatile enough to wear many costumes and play many roles. A few props, a little makeup, a costume and--voilà--applause on the rugged frontier.

Johnny also arranges a special attraction for each town. While his actors bustle in and out of costumes, on and off the stage in many roles, one plays the villain in the bank. Then the actors take their curtain calls and railroad away.

Who? Us? Rob a bank? But you saw all of us on stage. When could we have done that?

A Pinkerton man becomes the troupe’s severest critic: He notices the news reports of stage performances one day and bank robberies the next. He follows the troupe, packing his suspicions. Finally, he sets a clever trap.

Johnny Vermillion is one of the most entertaining rogues ever to turn a dishonest dollar. Any audience will love a troupe that can transform A Midsummer Night’s Dream into grand larceny.


Read an Excerpt

Chapter One
Most of what follows took place in the West.
Not just any West.
It was the West of legend and suckling-memory, where drifters caked head to heel with dust swilled red-eye whiskey at long mahogany bars, punching holes in the tin ceilings with their big Colts to impress their half-naked, quartz-eyed hostesses; where buffalo rolled thunder across gaunt desert, grass ocean, and the great mountain ranges where the earth showed its tusks, stopping only to splash in the wallows and scratch their burlap hides against the cowcatchers of the Central and


Praise for The Adventures of Johnny Vermillion

“Estleman’s prose snaps like fresh linen Treasury bills.”--Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on The Master Executioner

“What we have here is a true professional, a writer of a sort increasingly rare . . . a craftsman so given to his work as to spontaneously combust to genius.”--Boston Globe on The Master Executioner

“Stylist extraordinaire Estleman shapes sentences like prose poems to the craft at hand, his details sharp as metal shavings, in a voice all his own.”--Kirkus Reviews on Black Powder White Smoke

“Loren Estleman brings high style to his writing; the sentences are things of beauty in and of themselves.”--Tulsa World on The Master Executioner

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Loren D. Estleman

  • LOREN D. ESTLEMAN, author of more than fifty books, is admired for both his novels of the West and his crime novels. A nominee for the National Book Award, he has won five Spur Awards. Estleman lives in Michigan with his wife, author Deborah Morgan.
  • Loren D. Estleman Deborah Morgan


Available Formats and Book Details

The Adventures of Johnny Vermillion

Loren D. Estleman



Forge Books