1878. A Pinkerton operative signs on with a rival concern just in time to catch a case that will pit him against a resourceful gang of swindlers—and one of his former Pinkerton colleagues.
In the second tale Col. David J. Crook, founding mastermind of the Great Western Detective League, relates 30 years after the fact to Denver Tribune reporter Robert Brentwood (Wanted: Sam Bass, 2015), the bogus bondsman is actually a woman. After a disbarred attorney known only as the Counselor, acting on behalf of detestable financier Jay Gould, duly executes Kurt Gottschaft, the Chicago engraver he hired to produce a series of counterfeit $100,000 Texas & Pacific Railroad bonds, he engages beautiful Cecile Antoine to pass the bonds, one at a time, and then keep moving before news of the fraud can catch up with her. Unfortunately for the plotters, Gottschaft keeps back one counterfeit bond for himself, and when his son, Heinrich, tries to pass it off on his own, he triggers an alarm that brings the GWDL’s newest hire, Beau Longstreet, into the hunt, along with Pinkerton agent Samantha Maples. In the blessed days before computers and telephones, Cecile, changing her alias more often than her reticule, succeeds in staying one step ahead of her pursuers for quite a while, leading them on a merry chase. The real question, though, is not whether she’s going to be caught but who exactly will do the catching.
Colt’s elderly male Scheherazade keeps the formulaic story—one near miss after another—moving smartly along from bank to bank. Even non–Western fans who pick this one up by mistake will be beguiled.