Sudden Country

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

When Judge Constantine Blod, writer of such blood and thunder epics as APACHE DICK’S LAST WARPATH and THE MORGAN GANG AT SKELETON GULCH, comes to be a guest at the boarding house run by Evangeline Grayle and her son David, he introduces young David to a world of cutthroats as real as the hyperbolic fiction he churns out under the name of Jed Knickerbocker. Judge Blod is awaiting a visit from one Jotham Flynn, recently released from the Texas State Penitentiary. Apparently, the Judge is interested in the tale of Flynn’s misspent life. Flynn’s murderous adventures as a raider with Bloody Bill Anderson are to serve as grist for the Judge’s literary mill. It seems that Judge Blod is particularly interested in the details of Bloody Bill’s raid on a Union payroll from which the loot was never recovered.

Young David soon learns that the old raider has his own secrets to keep. A fearful Flynn directs David to keep a sharp lookout for a man with a “Judas eye” and a wicked black scar. Before David can discover the source of Flynn’s fear, he witnesses his murder at the hands of midnight caller. When Judge Blod discovers that Flynn has given a Confederate banknote covered with cryptic markings, it soon comes to light that the Judge has been tracking Flynn in hopes of discovering the location of the missing payroll. Between David’s encrypted map and the Judge’s knowledge of the raid, they hope to recover the payroll gold buried somewhere in the...

(The entire section is 437 words.)