Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Last Ride of Jed Strange by Frank Leslie

The mysterious Frank Leslie--my wiser, taller, handsomer, much more loquacious, suave and saltily sophisticated alter ego--rides again in THE LAST RIDE OF JED STRANGE.  

Frank took some time off from his love affair in Europe with a bullfighter's girl to pen this one at the home of a Swedish princess on the island of Capri off the coast of Italy--at least when his friends Kate Hudson and Angelina Jolie weren't calling him back to parties in Aspen, which he of course is the life of.

There are no known pictures of Frank Leslie, so I thought I'd post one of someone who looks a lot like him though a tad less handsome.

Anyway, here is an excerpt of the book the wild old coyote channeled to me sometime last year.  It's from the beginning of the fifth chapter of the book, the first copy of which I just received from Signet.  The official publication date is January 3 but it should be in the book stores in a week or two.  I hope you'll all buy a copy, for while Frank doesn't need the money, me and my critters do!

From THE LAST RIDE OF JED STRANGE/Frank Leslie (Signet, Jan. 2012)

Colter must have passed out. 
     All he knew was that time seemed to skip ahead until he was looking around and realizing that both McKnight and Hobart were gone, and that Pres Belden lay on the ground nearby, flat on his back near the wagon’s open tailgate.  Something dark was dripping off the end of the tailgate and pooling on the ground below it, beside Belden’s head. 
     Then Colter realized what had drawn him up out of shallow unconscious--the trilling of spurs and the thudding of boots moving toward him fast.  He’d know the skip-scuff shamble of Willie Tappin anywhere.
     “Colter, what the...?”
     Colter groaned and lifted his head, trying to push himself up to a sitting position against the searing pain in his ribs.  As Willie approached dressed in buskskin pants, boots, and underwear shirt with an Army blanket thrown over his shoulders, Colter gave up and rolled onto his left hip, spitting more blood from his lips and casting his gaze toward where Belden lay unmoving near the wagon’s open tailgate.
     Willie slowed his pace and stooped to place a hand on Colter’s shoulder but then, seeing the dark hump of Belden, he stepped over Colter and continued on over to the wagon.  He dropped to a knee and placed a hand on the Lieutenant’s throat then glanced over at Colter.  “Dead.  By the way he’s layin’ I’d say his neck’s broke.”
     Colter blinked, just now beginning to comprehend what had happened.  He’d caught the Lieutenant off balance and kicked him off his feet.  His head had slammed into the tailgate as he’d gone down.  The crunching sound had been Belden’s neck breaking.  The realization slowly gathered steam in Colter’s head.
     Belden was dead.  Colter had killed him. 
     “I got up to take a piss,” Willie said, walking back over to Colter, “and I’d just stepped out of the bunkhouse when I seen two soldiers running off toward the fort, like two donkeys with tin cans tied to their tails.”
     “McKnight and Hobart.”
     “Colter, what for the love o’ Jehova happened out here?”
     “I got the shit kicked out of both ends.”
     “I see that.”
     “Somehow, I managed to give that son of a bitch one helluva a mule kick, and”--Colter leaned on an elbow and fingered his chin, still trying to remember and work it all through his mind--“and beefed the bastard.”
     “Well, beef is what he is, all right.”  Willie stared in awe at the dead lieutenant then dropped to a knee in front of Colter.  “How bad you hurt?”
     “I feel like I still have one of his boots up my ass.” 
     “You look like a bobcat done tried to drag you off down the wash for supper.” 
     Willie stared toward the main fort across about a hundred yards of desert bristling with rocks and catclaw.  The adobe brick buildings sat slouched and ash-colored in the moonlight.  The Colonel’s house was at the far right end of the parade ground--a big Victorian affair that looked as out of place here on the Arizona desert as would a peacock in a chicken coop.  No lights were on there, either. 
     Willie said, “And you’re gonna look a lot worse if you don’t get the hell out of here.”


  1. Love the cover art for this series, and the Yakima Henry series too.

  2. Glad to see you're still getting a painted look on the covers of your books. The photo covers that are becoming ubiquitous on so many westerns -- don't get me wrong, some are very nice -- just don't grab me like the painted covers do.