|About the Book|
Setting: 1875, Indian Territory Major Characters:Buck Pickett - a crusty veteran of the West who is reaching the age at which he begins to question his past life of violence. He is opinionated and tough but reflective.Junior Pickett - younger brother of Buck who possesses the same physical traits and skills as Buck but not the maturity or experi?ence. He is forced to grow into the West because of circumstances beyond his control.Mary Rankin - an outspoken, independent girl who has a longtime distrust and dislike of men. She becomes the object of Juniors love but does not know how to handle it.Minor Characters:Quanah - Comanche warrior-chieftain who is befriended by the Picketts during his surrender to the white man. He is a cold, calculating, and violent man.Red Coker - a crude outlaw leader with a vivid taste for violence. Ben Horn - a grizzly veteran marshal of Judge Isaac Parker.Ray Ben - an insane young gunfighter imported from Arizona by Coker for the sole purpose of killing Buck Pickett.Texas Ranger Buck Pickett receives a telegram from his younger brother, Junior, to meet him in Fort Smith on a government mission. Former lawman Junior has recently taken a job working for his old army commander, Colonel G.S. Rankin, and his first assignment is to travel to Santa Fe and retrieve a gold shipment formerly belonging to the Confederate Army. As a sidelight to the mission, Junior will look for a place in New Mexico to move his ailing mother to.While still in Fort Smith, Buck is forced to kill a young drunk who goads him into a gunfight. The brother of the drunk, Red Coker, vows to get even. For the first time in his life, Buck begins to doubt his purpose in the West- the gunfight with the boy somehow changes his perspective to life. The Picketts are unknowingly trailed by the Coker gang on their trek to Santa Fe.Along the way, they encounter various people and events such as an execution ordered by the infamous Judge Parker, an accidental meeting with Comanche chief Quanah Parker, and a peri?lous journey across the arid Staked Plains of west Texas. Once in Santa Fe, the Pickett brothers find that to complete their mission, they must escort Colonel Rankins daughter, Mary, to Fort Sill in Indian Territory in order to rendezvous with the colonel. Despite Bucks objections she is included.Before leaving Santa Fe, Buck has a bloody brawl with the notorious Mexican bandit, El Lobo, and finds that fighting is no longer worth it in the end. He must come to grips with his deepening feelings about himself and his urge to settle down as he ages. Junior finds a beautiful valley to move his mother to. Invariably, he falls in love with the independent Mary- his struggles to deal with his newfound feelings are comical. In a lighter side, Buck plays the part of Cupid.Following a long, dry trip back to Indian Territory, Buck meets up with the Coker gang and squares off with an insane young gunfighter from Arizona named Ray Ben. The slowing Buck is trick?ed by the gunman, and to his astonishment, is beaten on the draw and seriously wounded. Red Coker shows up to finish the job on Buck.From here on, Juniors entire personality and purpose change. His love for Mary, his plans for his ma, and his mission for Colonel Rankin become secondary to his sole purpose for living: revenge for the death of his brother. The West has forced him to a new kind of maturity. With the help of his friend, Quanah, Junior finds the outlaw gang holed up in the Wichita Mountains. He finds revenge by killing the members of the vicious gang in?cluding a one-on-one duel with the Arizona gunman.Junior returns to Fort Sill expecting to find a departed Mary. Instead he finds her changed: love has conquered after all. They return to Missouri to move his mother to New Mexico in order to find a new life for all.