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Authors: Larry D. Sweazy

The Badger's Revenge

BOOK: The Badger's Revenge
Table of Contents
Praise for
“Larry D. Sweazy's Josiah Wolfe books promise to stand among the great Western series. Think
The Rifleman
in the deft hands of a Larry McMurtry or a Cormac McCarthy.”
—Loren D. Estleman, Spur Award−winning author of
The Book of Murdock
“Larry D. Sweazy takes you on a fierce ride . . . This crisp, well-written story returns you to the West as it really was—and you'll like being there.”
—Cotton Smith, author of
Ride for Rule Cordell
and past president of Western Writers of America
“Larry D. Sweazy writes a lively blend of mystery, action, and historical realism.”
—John D. Nesbitt, Spur Award–winning author of
Gather My Horses
Praise for

The Rattlesnake Season
combines the slam-bang action of a good Western with the sensitivity of style and depth of character that used to be the hallmark of literary fiction.”
—Loren D. Estleman, Spur Award–winning author of
The Book of Murdoc
“A character-rich story about a Texas Ranger haunted by dark memories, on the hunt for a former comrade-in-arms turned killer.”
—Elmer Kelton, seven-time Spur Award–winning author
“There's a new fresh voice in the pages of Western fiction . . . His powerful, authentic voice rings steel tough . . . A must read for the Western fan.”
—Dusty Richards, Spur Award–winning author of
Wulf's Tracks
“Larry D. Sweazy's novel is a fast-paced, hard to put down book, chock-full of unforgettable characters you will be glad you met . . . a page-turner.”
—Robert J. Conley, author of
The Cherokee Nation
and vice president of Western Writers of America
Titles by Larry D. Sweazy
Josiah Wolfe, Texas Ranger Series
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
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Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,
South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
A Berkley Book / published by arrangement with the author
Berkley edition / April 2011
Copyright © 2011 by Larry Sweazy.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions. For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
eISBN : 978-1-101-47770-0
Berkley Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
The “B” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

This book is dedicated to the memory of my uncle,
Robert “Bob” Byrne,
the first writer to ever inspire me.
No book ever gets written alone, and no book ever finds its way to a reader alone. As I wrote this book, several of the bookstores that had previously supported my work closed their doors, and it didn't seem right not to acknowledge their passing.
I walked in the doors of The Mystery Company in Carmel, Indiana, for the first time in the spring of 2004 after making my first professional short story sale to a western anthology (
Texas Rangers
, edited by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg, Berkley Books, 2004). Jim Huang, the owner, happily agreed to stock the book and host a signing for me—my first. The Mystery Company has been my “home” bookstore ever since. The staff has always promoted my work, and I count many of them as my friends. Thank you, Jim, Austin, Edna, Moni, Jennie, Jaci, and everyone else at TMC for all that you've done for me over the years. You all will be sorely missed.
The Wild in Noblesville, Indiana, was primarily a children's bookstore, but the owner, Jane Shasserre Mills, welcomed my books and hand-sold a great many of them. Noblesville will not be the same without you or the store, Jane.
I briefly met the staff at the Waldenbooks store in my hometown of Anderson, Indiana, but Eric and Stephanie went above the call of duty to host a great book signing for me. Thank you. I hope you both have found careers that allow your love of books to carry on.
Finally, to all of the booksellers who have been gracious and kind to me, especially Margi Kingsley and the staff at the Noblesville Barnes & Noble, who are still fighting the good fight, making sure books find their way to readers' hands every day, thank you for all that you continue to do.
Also . . . this book wouldn't have been possible without the continuing support from my writing friends (you know who you are) and those who have helped guide my books to their final form: John Duncklee; the Berkley production team; Faith, Cherry, Liz, and Chris; and most importantly, Rose, whose confidence in me never wavers.
The challenge of mixing fiction with history is never ending, especially when the mix includes a venerable organization such as the Texas Rangers. In each of my books, I have tried to capture the high-quality character and spirit of the Rangers, most eloquently described by Walter Prescott Webb in his highly respected book
Texas Rangers: A Century of Frontier Defense
(University of Texas Press, 2008): “No Texas Ranger ever fanned a hammer when he was serious, or made a hip shot if he had time to catch a sight. The real Ranger has been a very quiet, deliberate, gentle person who could gaze calmly into the eye of a murderer, divine his thoughts, and anticipate his action, a man who could ride straight up to death.”
Mr. Webb's ideal of a Ranger is a high standard. One that continues to be apparent in the modern Texas Ranger organization. It is my hope that every time I tell a Ranger story, I uphold the character and honor of all Texas Rangers, past and present.
For other historical works concerning the Texas Rangers and the Frontier Battalion, the following books have served me well:
Lone Star Justice: The First Century of the Texas Rangers
by Robert M. Utley (Berkley, 2002);
The Texas Rangers: Wearing the Cinco Peso
by Mike Cox (Forge, 2008);
Six Years with the Texas Rangers, 1875—1881
by James B. Gillet (Bison Books, 1976).
Online resources such as
The Handbook of Texas
Texas Ranger Dispatch
magazine, have also been helpful in portraying the Texas Rangers as accurately, and honorably, as possible.
October 1861
The forceful north wind pushed through the walls
of the cabin, searching out every nook, cranny, and snakesized hole it could find. It was a harsh cold that was nearly bone chilling, a surprise to a young man's skin that was more accustomed to long, hot, Texas summers than the mystery of the Dakotas or the promise of constant blizzards in the faraway land of Montana. It was the first hint of the coming winter, and the certainty of the change of seasons was not lost on Josiah Wolfe, who slowly stirred awake under a thin blanket, wholly unprepared to step foot on the floor and get a start on the day.
Winter in East Texas was mild, and the deep drop in the temperature was an anomaly, a drop more akin to late January mornings, though rare even then, than October ones. Beyond the suddenness of the cold, roiling clouds were visible through the window, lighting the room in gloomy shadows instead of the happy sunshine Josiah had hoped for the night before. He'd finally drifted off to sleep, fear mixing with excitement over the new adventure that lay in wait for him the next day.
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