Jeff Breland writes westerns, ghost stories and thrillers – and sometimes hybrids of all three.
He’s another author who likes the first thing he wrote best of his work – in Jeff’s case this is the first in his ‘bounty hunter’ series BAD DAY FOR THE HANGMAN. This features Jake Stone who’s a bounty hunter in everything but name.
In the company of a Mexican girl he pursues a ruthless killer across northern New Mexico.
It’s curious how bounty hunters in western fiction are often ‘good guys’: STEVE McQUEEN bookended his career in westerns as a bounty hunter, starting off in 1958 in the TV series WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE, and, in his very last western in 1980, playing perhaps the west’s most famous bounty hunter – even if no one called him that – TOM HORN.
Steve McQueen as Tom Horn
The real Tom Horn
And both RANDOLPH SCOTT in ‘Ride Lonesome’
and CLINT EASTWOOD as ‘the man with no name’ are, at least in theory, on the side of the angels.
Despite the popularity of bounty hunters in western fiction, evidence for historical ones remains scanty. As well as Tom Horn, there’s CHARLIE SIRINGO (1855 – 1928) a Texas cowboy and author who, at the age of 36, joined the Pinkerton’s Detective Agency.
He began operating undercover, a relatively new technique at the time, and infiltrated gangs of robbers and rustlers, making more than 100 arrests. Reluctantly, he went undercover to undermine the Western Federation of Miners in the strike they held in northern Idaho in 1892. In the late 1890s, posing as a gunman on the run from the law for murder, he infiltrated BUTCH CASSIDY’s Wild Bunch.
The Wild Bunch in 1900: Front row 1st left THE SUNDANCE KID; farthest right: BUTCH CASSIDY; Back row, 2nd right: KID CURRY
Several members of the gang were captured or killed as a result of the information he gathered, including KID CURRY, eventually killed in a shoot-out in 1904. So Siringo was a bounty hunter more likely to bring a criminal down by digging away in the background, rather than by a bullet in a face-to-face encounter.
Reviews for BAD DAY FOR THE HANGMAN:
‘Breland has crafted a great character in Marshal Stone… An action packed book with a good plot…. This book was very exciting with twists and turns… I just kept going way past my bedtime because I couldn't figure out what was going to happen.’