Friday, September 28, 2012

A Death in Indian Wells

Lewis B. Patten's A Death in Indian Wells turned out to be a page turner. It all started with the death of a young Indian who was put on display in a window in Indian Wells. Pete Handy, the Sheriff, was out of town with his son rounding up a killer when it happened. Upon their return, Handy immediately frees the Indian and takes him to a jail cell, where he has the doctor look at his wounds. It was three buffalo hunters that captured and wounded the Indian and put him on display. Sheriff Handy arrests them and takes them to jail and when the young Indian dies of his wounds, he holds them for murder against the town's wishes. Many of the citizens have friends or relatives who were attacked by the Indians in the past and murdered.

Well, Sheriff Handy is married to an Indian and his son, Johnny, is a half-breed, and he can understand why the people are not upset about the dead young Indian, but he must uphold the law. His son, Johnny, takes the Indian to a Cheyenne village for a proper Indian burial with the Sheriff's okay. This riles up the Indians and they plan to kill Johnny and attack Indian Wells to get even with the whites and this puts Handy and his son in a tight spot between a rock and a hard place. Does he release the buffalo hunters to the Cheyennes who will kill and torture them or does he let the town be attacked? Throw in a news reporter who is going to write up the story of how the town treated the Indian and some of the leading citizens going against the law to save the town and the tension thickens.

You'll have to read the story to find out what happens and who does what to who and how it ends. I thought it was an exciting read and enjoyed it.

Lewis B. Patten (Jan 13, 1915 - May 23, 1981) wrote a lot of westerns under his own name and as Lewis Ford, Len Leighton, and Joseph Wayne. And others in cahoots with Wayne D. Overholser. (From Wikipedia.) This book was a Signet Book from the New American Library and a First Printing, February 1972.