When Judge Isaac Parker first arrived in Fort Smith, Arkansas, the town had thirty saloons and one bank. Inheriting a corrupt court and a lawless territory roughly the size of Great Britain, he immediately put the residents on notice by publicly hanging six convicted felons at one time. For the next two decades, his stern and implacable justice brought law and order to the West . . . and made him plenty of enemies.
As the sole law on the untamed frontier, Parker tried civil and criminal cases throughout the Western District of Arkansas and the Indian Nations. Only God and the president had the power to challenge Parker. His severe judgments scandalized Washington and the Eastern press, and took an onerous toll on his private life, but the “Hanging Judge of the Border” never flinched from his duty. Over the years, he and his marshals, dubbed “Parker’s Men,” ran up against some of the most colorful and dangerous outlaws the West had to offer, including the notorious Dalton Gang; Belle Star, the Bandit Queen; the murderous Cherokee Bill; and Ned Christie, a vengeful Indian who carried on a private war against the U.S. government for seven years.
The Branch and the Scaffold is a fascinating depiction of Judge Parker’s life and times, as told by a five-time winner of the Spur Award.
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“Fascinating historical fiction.”—Booklist on The Branch and the Scaffold
“This is a vivid, fast-paced western adventure brilliantly presented by a masterful storyteller.”—Publishers Weekly on The Branch and the Scaffold
“The tale of a master executioner written by a master storyteller: What more could you ask for?”--Elmore Leonard on The Master Executioner
“A master craftsman at storytelling, Estleman spins a fascinating and macabre account about a forgotten craftsman of the Old West, the professional hangman.”--Elmer Kelton on The Master Executioner
“Estleman’s prose snaps like fresh linen Treasury bills, using a Cold-Eye-of-God style for a type of fiction-truer-than-fact stretching back to Defoe’s true-fact novel Journal of the Plague Year.”--Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on The Master Executioner
“Hauntingly poignant. . . . Estleman movingly conveys the brutalizing effects of killing for the law, even when you are terribly good at it.”--The Economist on The Master Executioner