I first got to know John Hamilton through his book Isle Royale,
which I loved. Now he has an exciting new book,
so I invited him to post a sample here. Enjoy!
Ghost Marshal: A Tale of the Weird West
by John Hamilton
|John Hamilton at Devil's Tower|
All hell breaks loose when Jessica Parker arrives in 1876 Deadwood and finds her father brutally murdered. Jessie teams up with the cantankerous ghost of Wild Bill Hickok to confront a murderous gang of outlaws in a town gone mad with gold fever. They soon find themselves knee-deep in mayhem, with gunfights, Chinese sorcery, barroom brawls, pleasures of the flesh, giant demon owls, forbidden romance, and a heaping dose of frontier justice. Along the way, Jessie and Bill uncover a bizarre conspiracy that takes them to the very gates of hell itself. From prairie wildflower to badass gunslinger, Jessie Parker is destined to become a rip-snortin’ hero of the Weird West—if she lives long enough to tell the tale!
A blood-curdling scream echoed through the building’s thin walls. After a moment of realization, Jessie cried out, “That’s Annie!” She threw open the door and rushed out of the room, followed closely by Bill.
Jessie ran down the hallway toward Annie’s room. More screams came from inside her friend’s bedchamber. Doors on either side of the hall were flung open as the other women poked their heads out to investigate the commotion.
“Good Lord, what a night,” Jessie said. She grabbed the doorknob and twisted, but it was locked tight. She pounded on the door.
She heard more muffled screams from inside the room, then the sound of flesh pounding on flesh. Jessie threw her shoulder against the door, but it was rock solid, not giving an inch. She banged again on the door with her fists.
She felt Bill’s presence behind her.
“Jessie, get ready.”
Bill moved close to her, inhaled deeply, then stepped forward and merged with her body.
Jessie stood up straight, confidence radiating from every pore. Her eyes narrowed as she gritted her teeth. With a shout, she brought her knee up and thrust outward with her foot, kicking the door straight off its hinges.
Jessie leapt into the room, skidding over pieces of splintered wood. She saw Annie lying naked on the bed, sobbing, two black eyes marring her face.
A man stood next to the bed, hurriedly pulling on his trousers and gun belt. He twisted toward Jessie and they both stopped dead in their tracks.
It was the man with the black eyepatch, the assassin who’d tried to kill her in the street that awful night.
The man quickly recognized Jessie. With a grunt, he leapt forward and tried wrapping his big hands around her throat.
Jessie expertly moved to the side, grabbing one of the man’s wrists and smashing him in the face. Then, she unleashed her full fury.
Jessie snarled and continued pummeling the assassin. Under the relentless onslaught, he staggered backward across the room. The one-eyed man tried fighting back, but Jessie was too quick and too strong. Guided by Bill, she easily slapped away his meager counterpunches.
Finally, Jessie had the man backed up against the far wall, barely able to stand on his feet. She wound up and delivered a crushing blow, sending him crashing through the window. He tumbled down to the back ally below.
With a whoosh, Bill exited Jessie’s body and stepped to the side, into the shadows. Jessie winced and shook her hand, then grinned. “Damn, that felt good!”
Jessie went to the shattered window and looked down. She spotted the one-eyed man staggering to his feet. His face was a bloody mess.
“You folded him up like an empty purse.”
She turned and saw Bill next to her.
“I had help,” she said.
“You’re the one who went running as soon as you heard screaming,” he said. “I swear you’d fight a rattler and give him first bite.”
Jessie grinned at Bill and then looked down again. The one-eyed man spotted her. She saw him struggle to unholster his gun and then shakily aim it upward.
“Back!” Bill cried out in warning.
They both ducked as a bullet zinged into the windowsill. A splinter flew up and struck Jessie in the face.
Down below, the man bellowed, “I’ll get you, bitch! You’re dead!”
Jessie slowly peered through the window again and watched as the one-eyed man staggered off into the shadows. She noticed her reflection staring back at her in a jagged shard of glass sticking up from the window frame. She winced. There was an ugly red mark on her cheek where the splinter had struck.
“He’s all gurgle and no guts,” Bill said. “He won’t be back tonight.”
John Hamilton is a bestselling novelist and author of more than 250 nonfiction books for young adults. An Active Member of the Western Writers of America and the Wild West History Association, his work has received critical acclaim from School Library Journal, Children’s Literature, The Sioux City Journal, We Proceeded On (the official journal of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation), and many others.
John’s young adult book Battle of the Little Bighorn earned 2015 Spur Award Finalist honors from the Western Writers of America. He is a two-time winner of the Golden Duck Award for Excellence in Children’s Science Fiction Literature, and his epic retelling of the Lewis & Clark expedition, Lewis & Clark: Adventures West, was a Minnesota Book Award finalist for Young Adult Nonfiction.
John has a journalism degree from the University of Minnesota. He has taught writing and storytelling at the university level. School Library Journal said “(Hamilton’s) books present a remarkable amount of information and provide readers with a clear understanding of complicated issues.”
John is also an award-winning photojournalist and landscape photographer. His rodeo photography won an Editor’s Choice Award from the National Association of Photoshop Professionals.
John holds black belts in both Tae Kwon Do and Kung Fu. He loves target shooting, baking bread, and playing with Finn, his trusty schnauzer. He can be found most summers with his family either exploring the American West or hiking along Minnesota’s rugged North Shore.