And for the second in out exclusive previews we present McGuire, Manhunter by Scott Connor
Manhunter Jim McGuire hung up his gun and settled in
White Ridge aiming to live a quiet life, but his past profession
soon called him back. His young charge Billy Jameson was
wrongly accused of murder and the only way to save him from
the gallows was to take on an assignment from the corrupt
Mayor Jake Nixon.
But finding the on-the-run thief Barney Dale wasn’t as
straightforward as it seemed. Barney was the only witness to a
murder committed by Nixon and unbeknown to Jim, the
mayor has hired ruthless guns to ensure that as soon as he
finds Barney both of their lives will be cut short.
With the manhunter becoming the hunted man, can Jim
defeat the many guns Nixon has lined up against him?
‘The kid’s gone loco,’ Orson Brown said, slamming his
fist on the bar.
Jim McGuire winced. He’d dreaded hearing news
of this kind all week.
‘I’ll speak to him,’ he said, then pushed the whiskey
bottle along the bar as an added encouragement to
Orson to listen to his plea.
Orson snorted, but the bottle was just too tempting,
so he poured himself a glass, then leaned on the bar
‘There’s no point,’ he said, his tone becoming
more reasonable. ‘Billy’s not cut out to work for a
newspaper. He’ll have to go elsewhere.’
The two men looked at each other, both avoiding
mentioning the obvious point that for the last six
months Jim had tried to find work for Billy in just
about every possible place in White Ridge. Nothing
had worked out. Billy wasn’t cut out to work in Chester
Heart’s mercantile, or the saloon, or the hotel. Even
shovelling manure in the stables seemed to be an
activity he found too taxing.
‘What was the problem this time?’
‘He’s lazy and ornery,’ Orson said, giving a rueful
smile. ‘Newspapers require dedication, but he’s been
late every day. So I punished him by telling him he’s
worked for a week for nothing, but he got so angry I
reckoned he might smash up the place and throw me
through the window.’
Orson gulped his drink, then raised his eyebrows,
inviting a response.
‘I’m sorry, and I can’t offer much in the way of
inducement.’ Jim topped up Orson’s glass. ‘But if you
change your mind, I’ll do everything I can do to make
sure he’s on time and works hard.’
Orson sighed. ‘I know it’s hard for you, Jim, and I
don’t blame you for Billy’s actions. Bringing up a kid
who ain’t your own can’t be easy.’
‘It ain’t,’ Jim said, letting his voice become wistful.
‘Billy’s father was a good friend and I promised him
before he died that I’d give his boy a good start in life.
That’s all I’m trying to do.’
Jim only called upon this form of emotional blackmail
when he was desperate. So far he’d used this tale
on five different employers and each time it’d worked,
but only the once.
Orson sipped his drink while shaking his head, but,
with Jim smiling at him, he gave a reluctant nod.
‘All right. He’ll get that second chance, provided
he’s on time tomorrow and provided he apologizes,
then shows some enthusiasm.’
Jim patted Orson’s back and moved to refill his
glass, but he noticed that further down the bar
Chester Heart was listening to their conversation. So
before he had a chance to join them and relate some
tales of the three traumatic days Billy had worked for
him, Jim ushered Orson outside.
On the boardwalk Orson urged Jim to stay there for
now to avoid inflaming the situation, then headed
across the road to the newspaper office. Jim watched
him leave, then cast his gaze down the road, already
resigned to this assignment not working out and
wondering where else he could try to get permanent
employment for his unruly charge.
It wasn’t that Billy was bad: he was just young and he
didn’t seem prepared to do any work at all. Maybe if
he was his real father, Jim mused not for the first time,
he’d know what to say to get through to him.
But the wise words of his kin was something Billy
would never receive again and so, as he had done the
previous times, Jim told himself that it was just a
matter of letting Billy work through his problems. For
his part, he’d continue to support him until he found
work that suited him and then. . . .
A gunshot tore out, the sound muffled.
The few people out on the road stopped in their
tracks, ducking and cringing while looking around for
where the shot had come from. It had been some time
since Jim had last drawn his own gun, so he merely
lowered his hand towards his holster while looking
Then he saw that several people were looking
towards the newspaper office, torn between rushing to
investigate and scurrying away. Jim had no such
qualms. He broke into a run and reached the office
door before anyone else had stepped up on to the
boardwalk; then he threw open the door.
Inside Orson Brown lay on his back clutching his
chest, blood oozing through his fingers. Billy was on
one knee beside him, shock contorting his young face.
That shock deepened when Orson uttered a chokedoff
gasp, then arched his back and flopped down to lie
still. Billy looked up at Jim.
‘It wasn’t me,’ he murmured.
Jim looked around the office, seeing nobody else
inside, but his gaze fell on the open and swinging back
‘I know. Who did do it?’
‘I don’t know. One moment he was shouting at me,
and then. . . .’ Billy uttered a sob and lowered his head
as the horror of the situation finally took control of his
Jim would have consoled him but the open door at
the back and his old instincts were beckoning him.
‘I’ll deal with it,’ he said. He moved off, but he had
taken only one step towards the door when the loud
but shaking voice of Sheriff George Price spoke up
from the door behind him.
‘Reach or die!’
Jim stomped to a halt, then slowly turned with his
hands raised slightly.
‘Every second we waste,’ he said, ‘gives whoever did
this another second to get away.’
‘Wrong. I’m looking at that man right now.’
Jim glanced at Billy. Blood coated the young lad’s
hands and he was hunched over the body. He had to
admit that even for a lawman who was as incompetent
as Price was, this did appear to be a clear-cut situation,
and one which was bad for Billy.
‘He didn’t do this. He doesn’t even wear a gun.’
‘He does. Look! He’s going to shoot again.’ Price’s
eyes opened wider as behind him on the boardwalk
people began muttering and peering around him to
see what was happening inside.
Billy wasn’t holding the gun that Price reckoned he
was holding, but there was a simpler explanation for
Price’s confusion. It was common knowledge that
since the sheriff had given up the whiskey his judgement
had become poor. Worse, he hadn’t been particularly
competent when he had been drinking, and in
his darting eyes Jim could see his customary indecision.
A wrong move from anyone could panic him into
pulling the trigger.
Jim put on a calm expression he didn’t feel and
took a long pace towards Price to put himself between
the lawman and Billy.
‘Sure. Do your duty, Sheriff, and you’ll see this situation
ain’t what it seems.’
Jim’s closeness made Price gulp before he firmed
his gun hand.
‘Then stand aside and let me arrest Billy before he
shoots up anyone else.’
Jim saw the sudden and rare flash of determination
in Price’s eyes. So he moved as if to step aside, but
then swung round and with lightning reflexes
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