Monday, 17 June 2013

Cover Gallery: Amos Flagg

By Clay Randall

“I’m the Sheriff,” Amos said to the stranger. “You got business with me?”

“I guess you could call it that. I’m your old man! I’m Gunner Flagg, boy!”

Amos stared. Gunner was a thief, a bandit, a highwayman and a killer. He had swindled gullible pilgrims from Sonora to Kansas. In fact, there wasn’t much in the book of outlawry that Gunner hadn’t tried and yet there he sat grinning.

“As far as I’m concerned,” Amos told him, “you are another striper fresh out of prison. I don’t want you in this town. You’re filthy. I don’t want to be reminded that Gunner Flagg is my old man. Get out.”

But Gunner would stay, Amos knew – as surely as he knew that the day would come when he would have to gun down his own father.

The four most notorious killers in Texas Territory had drifted into Sangaree County from different directions – quietly, singly, carefully. And now they were gathered together in a stretch of bad-land, a mean little cutback running between No Man’s Land and Indian Territory.

Rumours said they were there to make a deal with Amos Flagg, in exchange for protection from the law.

But the four gunmen knew you couldn’t make any deals with a damn fool like Flagg.

The only place you could handle Flagg was on his own ground, and the only way you could do it was to lure him into ambush, strip him of his badge, and kill him.

This time it was the end for Flagg. This time his enemies finally found a man willing to grab Flagg’s badge away from him – the man who was Flagg’s best friend.

And just to make sure, they sent Flagg on a chase that took him far from town – and just to make doubly sure, at the other end of the trail they put some men who had only one mission: stop Flagg. Stop him and make sure he never got back.

Twenty years before, a kid named Danny Lee had saved the life of Amos Flagg’s old man, jailbird Gunner Flagg. Gunner never forgot…

Fifteen years later, Amos Flagg shot and killed a rustler named Brady. But that was everyday work for a sheriff in the Texas Panhandle, and Amos forgot about it.

Brady’s woman didn’t forget. She vowed revenge, and when she had finally saved enough money, she sent for the fastest, slickest killer money could buy.

She hired Danny Lee. Kill Amos Flagg, she told him.

Danny Lee had never left a job undone. He was the best bushwhacker there was, a real professional…

Amos Flagg was a good sheriff, tough as leather and mean as a hungry bear. The town figured he was due for some official recognition. Amos Flagg Day.

But they had reckoned without one of two things. First off, there was Ike Krug, who hated to see anyone honoured above himself. So he organised a river of whisky, got together a few people to drink it and called it a wedding.

Second off, Billy Jowett was a mite fed-up. Hell, Krug had just stolen his girl, and something had to be done about that.

So – with both sides hiring out-of-state hotrods to do their vengeance killings, Amos Flagg was so busy trying to escape the flying lead that he didn’t have time to enjoy his Day.

Amos Flagg sat like stone. I want your badge, the judge had said. It was like saying ‘I want your life’ – one helluva price to pay for being right.

And Amos had been right. About the new marshal, about the Slater widow, and about a whole lot of things. Only now, for the town’s sake, he hoped he’d been wrong.

Ottie Spain had been a thorn in Flagg’s side from the start. Arrogant, boastful, conceited, and above all, ambitious. He saw himself as the greatest marshal alongside Earp. And Flagg certainly didn’t fit in his setup. Ottie wasn’t after help. He wanted a reputation and a chance to prove his worth – he got both by gunning down Ab Slater.

Men with reputations live as long as their guns speak the fastest. And with the Slater widow screaming vengeance, and the town crawling with killer, it looked like Ottie’s gun was in for a spade of talking. And Flagg wasn’t sure if he liked it that way.

First published in America by Fawcett during the 1960's it wasn't long before they were published in the UK by Coronet and these are the covers shown above. Clay Randall was a pseudonym used by Clifton Adams.

The books were also published under the series title of Texas Lawman. This printing put the books out in a different order, for instance book 5 became book 6, and in the case of this particular book it also had a title change, the cover of which you can see below.

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