Grant Bonner desperately wants to put his days as a Civil War spy behind him, but reluctantly agrees to one last mission. He finds himself in the crosshairs of a cunning Union Army commander, the architect of a malicious scheme involving cold- blooded massacre, a two million dollar gold heist, and the theft of a priceless historical document.
Entangled in a complicated scheme of murder, betrayal and deception, Bonner becomes the target of an unrelenting manhunt as he searches for justice and redemption as he fights for survival.
The small group rode in silence along a trail slicing through undulating hillsides and thick woodlands under a hot sun on a journey of several hours. Bonner rode between Coffey and Ford with Mecklin at the rear. His hands were not bound, but an escape attempt would get him a bullet in the back. Every now and then, he glanced over at the man named Ford. He looked familiar, but couldn’t place him. A short time later, the group neared North Bend Station and the man named Coffey pointed to a stream at the bottom of a slope, just a few yards off the trail.
Mecklin guided his horse to the water, and stood in the stirrups stretching while the animal lowered its head to drink. Sunlight glanced off twin iron rails stretching into the horizon, not far from where the train derailed months ago. The two deputies exchanged whispers. When they drew their guns, Mecklin turned and saw them.
“What the hell are you two doing?”
“End of the road for our prisoner,” said Coffey. “You, soldier boy, get down.”
“Don’t move, Bonner,” ordered Mecklin. “You two have lost your minds. This man’s my prisoner.”
“Talk sense. This man’s guilty as hell. We’re saving everyone a lot of time and expense.”
“He hasn’t been tried in a court of law yet or found guilty. No need for any of this. We got him. We got a motive. He is heading to jail for a long time. Or, to the gallows.”
“This is the last time I tell you to get down,” Coffey said to Bonner.
Bonner dismounted and got a closer look at Ford, and spotted a deep scar carved across the man’s eyebrow and forehead and realized where he had seen him before.
“I know you,” he said to Ford. “Mecklin, this is one of the men who robbed the train and shot me.”
“Yep,” said the detective. “Things like that happen when you commit a crime and try to escape.”
“That’s a load of bull,” he said. “These two planned on killing me all along. I didn’t escape. I ran for my life, and they gunned me down. Them and the other train robbers—”
“They’re the ones who caught you red-handed taking the safes from the express car,” Mecklin countered.
“All you’re going on is the word of these two. I carry the scars from their bullets. They want me dead, plain and simple, and you’re just in the way.”
“Shut your mouth, killer, or I’ll shoot you where you stand,” said Ford, who stepped in front of the prisoner, and whipped the handle of his gun across his face.
The force of the blow caught Bonner unprepared, and he stumbled backwards, crashing to the ground, the side of his face numb, blood trickling out of the gash in his cheekbone.
“Look, detective, let’s play this out nice and easy,” Coffey said. “We give the kid a chance to escape. Next thing is you’re headin’ back to town with the body and you’re a hero. The killer is dead. Railroad’s happy. You’ll get a promotion for taking care of a big headache so quick. At the same time, you’re richer for it.”
Bonner took his time getting to his feet. He saw Coffey smile, exchange looks with Ford, and then with Mecklin.
“You might call it private reward money for him dead rather than alive. You take the money and what’s left of him and we go our way.”
“Still don’t understand why we need to kill him.”
“It’s gotta be this way,” said Coffey, dismounting and motioning Mecklin down. “C’mon, let’s get this done.”
Tom Rizzo’s writing journey has taken him from radio and television news reporting to The Associated Press, where he worked as a correspondent, followed by several years in advertising and public relations. He grew up in central Ohio, lived in Great Britain for several years, and now calls Houston, Texas home.
Author and historian Troy D. Smith says “Rizzo has produced a real page-turner . . . equal parts Bourne Conspiracy, National Treasure, the 1990s Robert Urich western series The Lazarus Man, and old-fashioned Louis L’Amour adventure yarn. And it works.”
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=n6Tw-YqS80A
Available in paperback and ebook from:
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Click here for an interview with Tom Rizzo, Author of “Last Stand At Bitter Creek” at “Pat Bertram Introduces…”