is 1847, and the place is turbulent New Orleans during the staging of American forces for the invasion of Mexico. Timothy Wollfolk traveling to New Orleans to claim a huge inheritance, is shot and thought dead and thrown into the flooding Mississippi River by mysterious marauders. Lew Fannin, ex-Texas Ranger, believing Wollfolk has perished, slays the man’s murderers and assumes his identity. Two violent strands of dramatic conflict are set into motion.
Wollfolk is saved by a professional killer who agrees to wreak vengeance on the man who has taken Wollfolk’s name and fortune. Meanwhile Fannin discovers that his masquerade has led him into a morass of menace while defending his stolen holdings against a quartet of cutthroats. And he finds unexpected challenge of a different sort when he meets the exquisite octoroon woman which is also part of the Wollfolk legacy, and who stirs his senses while laying siege to his heart.
Against the background of troops moving to war in Mexico, and a scourge of yellow fever decimating the city, Wollfolk and Fannin must decide if they are enemies of allies. As both are caught in a noose of terror drawn ever tighter by those bent on destroying the Wollfolk dynasty. Their decision, and the shattering showdown it leads to, are charged with pulse-raising suspense and action.
For fans of historical adventure, as well as relish great story telling, this gripping tale of honor and revenge offers a fresh reason why F. M. Parker’s stirring novels are so widely acclaimed.
His novels include the Coldiron series, The Searcher, The Highbinders, Far Battleground, Shadow Man, Assassins, Slavers, Soldiers Of Conquest, Dream Hitcher, and many others
The door of the Gator’s Den opened and the yellow rays of gaslight spilled out into the dark night. The mutter of men at craps and cards drifted out the opening and reached Lezin Morissot, hiding in the shadows of the carriageway of the deserted house a block away.
A large black man stepped from the Gator’s Den and stood on the brick sidewalk. Morissot watched the man take a deep breath of the slow, damp wind coming off the Mississippi River. Even in the frail light, the hulking form of Verret was recognizable. He leisurely strode off along Dauphine Street toward Morrisot.
Morissot moved back a step into the deeper darkness of the carriageway and leaned against the brick wall. He calmly planned his strategy for killing. Now and then he peered out at Verret, faintly silhouetted in the night. The man came steadily on.
Morissot had stealthily followed Verret from early evening and into the night, until the man had finally ceased rambling about the Vieux Carre and settled down to play cards in the Gator’s Den. It was nearly morning now, and the man would be heading home and to bed.
Morissot removed a garrote from the pocket of his coat. He uncoiled the steel wire and took the wooden handles, one attached to each end, into his hands. When Verret felt the wire around his neck, there would be no escape. Morissot the assassin liked the silent, deadly weapon.
For a moment, Morissot wondered about Verret. He knew him only as one of the many black crew bosses on the docks. Why did someone want him dead? But then Morissot let the question slide away. He was being paid a handsome sum to see that the man vanished. Still, at some primal level he felt that the man’s death would in some unknown manner mean danger to him.
Morissot’s senses sharpened as they always did when he took a killing weapon into his hands and prepared to strike his victim. His keen eyes checked the fronts and the wrought-iron balconies of the two-story houses lining the street. He smelled the house slop, garbage, and human excrement in the drainage ditch in the center of the dirt street. A bat dove out o f the blackness and darted in close to inspect him. He heard the whisper of its leathery wings stroking the air as it veered upward and away. Verret’s footfalls sounded on the sidewalk.
Morissot cast one last look both directions. The street lay abandoned in the night. But the day was only minutes below the horizon, and soon a throng of people would pour out of the houses. The killing must be accomplished quickly. He spread the handles of the garrote to widen the wire bop. He stepped to the edge of the carriageway darkness near the street and pressed tightly against the brick wall.
The burly form of Verret passed in the night. He was humming a low tune to himself. Morissot sprang from his hiding place and in behind the man. He raised the garrote and brought it down swiftly over the man’s head. Jerked it savagely tight. With a mighty heave, Morissot yanked Verret into the carriageway.