Read The Reluctant Pinkerton Online
Authors: Robert J. Randisi
Tags: #Fiction, #Westerns, #General
“The Western genre needs more writers like Randisi, an original voice who’s still going strong.”
BULLETS AND LIES
“[Talbot Roper’s] not afraid to use his gun, though he’d prefer to use his brain. Eventually he works things out, but not before Randisi has provided some good surprises. Short chapters, good pacing, and a fine start to a new series. Fans of the traditional Western should get it immediately.”
A rude awakening…
Giles and Hague drew their guns, and Giles silently indicated to Hague that he should kick the door in. Hague nodded, backed up so that he was flat against the wall, then launched himself at the door. His feet struck it just below the doorknob and the door slammed open.
There was a flash of light from inside, and a bullet struck Hague dead center in his torso.
Giles panicked and turned to run, but Dol fired twice, hitting him both times and putting him down…
Dol ran down the hall, just as Roper came out his door. For a moment they pointed their guns at each other, then backed off.
Berkley titles by Robert J. Randisi
BULLETS AND LIES
THE RELUCTANT PINKERTON
A Talbot Roper Novel
ROBERT J. RANDISI
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
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THE RELUCTANT PINKERTON
A Berkley Book / published by arrangement with the author
Copyright © 2013 by Robert J. Randisi.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
Berkley Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group.
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Berkley mass-market edition / July 2013
Cover illustration by Dennis Lyall.
Cover design by Diana Kolsky.
Interior text design by Laura K. Corless.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Talbot Roper was considered to be the best private detective in the country. That was why the town of Rockwell, Wyoming, had hired him to find out who had robbed their bank, killed the bank manager and the sheriff. He’d had a meeting with the mayor and the town council to listen to their proposition.
Rockwell was a growing town, the kind that had the fresh smell of wood in the air from the new buildings that had been erected recently. And they had a new bank, complete with guards and a new safe, which had nevertheless been robbed, and rather easily.
“I don’t understand why you sent for me, gentlemen,” Roper had said. “Haven’t you appointed a new sheriff?”
“We have,” the mayor said, “but we don’t feel he’s up to this job. We need someone who can find out how they were able to rob the bank, who they are, and where they went. We need someone who won’t be concerned with jurisdictional questions.”
“What about a bounty hunter?”
“We thought about that, but we don’t know who to send
him after,” the mayor said. “We understand that you have all the talents necessary to discover who the robbers were, and then to track them down.”
Roper looked at the five men seated at the council table. They were all local merchants, all in their fifties or sixties, and they were all watching him intently.
“I don’t come cheap, you know,” he said.
“We understand that,” the mayor said. “We on the council are prepared to pay your bill.”
“And you’re right,” Roper said. “I’m a detective, I can figure out who they are and how they did the job. And I can track them. But I’m not a gunman. I won’t kill them. I’ll turn them over to the law.”
The five men all exchanged glances, and then the mayor said, “That’s fine with us.”
“And I’ll recover whatever money is left,” Roper added.
“Agreed,” the mayor said.
“All right, then,” Roper said, “I’ll need a retainer, and I’ll submit a full bill when the job is done…”
* * *
It didn’t take him long to do the detective work and find out that the two guards had been in cahoots with the bank robbers. They were each supposed to receive a cut of the proceeds, but instead they had both been murdered afterward. A witness to the killings had been left behind, and Roper was able to pin the whole thing—to his satisfaction—on a gang led by a man named Stu Milligan. From that point on, the job became to track down the Milligan gang.
All of which had led him to Festus, Missouri.
* * *
Festus was a small town, no scent of fresh lumber in the air, no impression of growth as he rode down the main street. There were a couple of saloons, a hotel, a general store, and a small bank. The bank certainly didn’t look worth robbing, but this was where the trail led. Something had led the
Milligan gang here, months after the robbery of the bank in Rockwell.
Roper reigned in his Appaloosa in front of the sheriff’s office and dismounted. He tied it off and stepped to the door. It was ajar, the lock broken. He went inside. The man behind the desk was wearing a star, but he was a match for the office, which was in disarray, and for the door—broken.
He had a bottle of whiskey in one hand and a coffee mug in the other as he looked up at Roper. The detective could see a layer of dust on almost every surface.
“You can if you’re the sheriff.”
The man looked down at his chest. A lock of gray hair fell down over his forehead as he did. Then he looked back up at the detective. Roper guessed him to be mid-forties, even though at first appearance he looked older.
“This tin star says I am, but it don’t tell the whole story.”
“I don’t know if I have time for the whole story, Sheriff.”
The neck of the bottle clinked against the mug as he poured himself a couple of fingers of whiskey.
“Want a drink?”
“I could use one,” Roper said. “I’ve been riding a while.”
“Mug over there on the stove.”
Roper walked to the old potbellied stove, grabbed the chipped mug from the top, and carried it over. He used his bandanna to clean out the inside, not that it made it that much cleaner.
“Have a seat,” the sheriff said, pouring him a drink. “What’s on your mind?”
“I’m tracking a gang led by a man named Milligan.”
“Stu’s the older,” the sheriff said. “Ned’s second.”
“Are there more?”
“One more,” the lawman said. “Terry.”
“And the rest of the gang?”
“Not related. You after the whole gang?”
“I’m after the ones who robbed a bank in Rockwell, Wyoming, and killed some men, including the local sheriff.”
“You track them all the way from Wyoming?”
“Once upon a time,” Roper said, “but I’ve been on my own for a long time now.”
“Hmm,” the sheriff said, pouring himself another drink.
“What’s your name?” Roper asked.
“Hmm? Oh.” He sipped his drink first, then said, “Howard, Sheriff Tom Howard.”
“Well, Sheriff Howard, I’m assuming you know the Milligans, since you know all their names.”
“I’ve heard of them,” the sheriff said. “They’re from around here. I’m surprised they got as far as Wyoming.”
“Well, they did,” Roper said, “and they made their mark, which they’re going to have to pay for. If they’re from around here, then you can tell me where to find them.”
“I probably could,” Howard said.