Lauran Paine, Five Star, $29.95, Hardcover.
Lauran Paine, Five Star, $29.95, Hardcover.

These two tense tales show Paine’s mastery of the Western and its heroes—men who not only take on trouble but ride straight over it. In “Dead Men in a Row,” Wyoming Sheriff Jim Ackroyd finds a trio of dead men beside a much traveled stage road but no tracks. They were killed with the sort of small pistol often used by women. Beautiful, reclusive Eloise Menrichson is the only new woman in the area; she’s visiting her sister. The sheriff investigates the ranch she is visiting and ends up ambushed and fighting for his life. In “Patterson,” range detective Glenn Patterson is hired by Dakota Territory ranchers who want Joe Hickman dead. Hickman has beaten four rustling raps through pay-offs. Glenn goes on an undercover mission in the Badlands, tagged along by Deputy Sheriff Abner Folsom. After the Badlanders accept them as men on the dodge, Glenn learns of a coming raid headed by Hickman.  The night of the “Big Steal,” Glenn and Ab find themselves between the guns of the raiders and ranchers.

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