Sixth and final (we think) entry in the Texas Rangers saga by Kelton.
Texas Vendetta (2004) brought into the 1870s the story begun in 1861 with The Buckskin Line (1999), when the raggle-taggle first Texas Rangers of Mexican Texas protected landowners from marauding Indians. The Indians are peaceful or gone now, but the Rangers still have business protecting Mexican-Americans from Texas-Americans and vice versa. Kelton starts out this time with immense laugh-out-loud humor, but phrases soon arise with cloudy hints that maybe it’s time for Ranger Andy Pickard, now 25, to pack in his badge (though a Ranger has no badge, unless he makes one for himself) and turn to thoughts of homesteading with Bethel Brackett. As it happens, he’s thrown in with fellow Ranger Farley Brackett, Bethel’s loutish, Mexican-hating brother, and with motormouth Len Tanner, and is posted to the still disputatious border country along the Rio Grande, where raids on each other’s stock are common between Texans and Mexicans. Along the way to their new post, the trio is bushwhacked for their horses but manage to drive off their attackers, killing one. The thieves, led by Burt Hatton, later bury their dead member, the hotheaded young nephew of the wife of their boss, cattleman (and rustler) Jericho Jackson. Jackson has a warning sign posted on his land: “This is Jericho’s road. Take the other.” He has fortified his ranch with a big wall, as in the story of Joshua in the Bible—and who will blow it down? Across the border in Mexico, Jericho’s rival is Guadalupe Chavez, who has a giant cattle ranch and rustles Jericho’s cattle, among others’. When Burt Hatton lies, telling Jericho that his wife’s hotheaded nephew was slain by Lupe Chavez, Jericho decides somehow to kill Chavez’s nephew, who works as a hand for Big Jim McCawley just north of the border. And so war erupts between Jericho and Chavez, with Rangers in the middle.
Another triumph in the genre: Kelton, author of some 40 novels, holds a record seven Spur Awards.