Page Murdock has been many things in his day: a cowhand, a saloonkeeper, a Comanche slave, and, lately, a deputy U.S. marshal. But the one thing the mean-faced, middle-aged gunman never expected to be was a man of the cloth.
Funny how things work out sometimes.
Posing as Brother Bernard Sebastian of the Church of Evangelical Truth, Murdock dons a clerical collar to worm his way into the good graces and confidences of the wary residents of Owen, Texas. Seems a gang of ruthless bandits is terrorizing the Texas panhandle, and all evidence points to the dusty cattle town as their base of operations. Murdock aims to unmask the gang, provided he can pass himself off as a preacher long enough to stay alive.
Imitating a minister troubles his conscience, almost driving him to the Good Book for comfort, and his prickly assignment grows even more complicated when he crosses paths with a shady lady from his past. With one hand on the Bible and the other on his revolver, Murdock navigates shoot-outs and Sunday sermons. He might not be well-versed in the Gospels, but one thing he knows for certain: avenging angels don't get halos.
The Book of Murdock is an outstanding Western adventure by Page Murdock's celebrated creator, Loren D. Estleman.
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Prolific western and mystery writer Estleman (The Branch and the Scaffold) combines the best of both in his 43rd novel, an exciting western loaded with intrigue, suspense, and clever plot twists. Deputy U.S. Marshal Page Murdock is sent to Texas in 1884 to capture a gang of armed robbers. The wrinkle is that Murdock must go disguised as a traveling preacher, toting a Bible in one hand and a pistol in the other. Murdock gets a less than pious crash course of instruction from a defrocked priest and a wily evangelist, then assumes the role of Brother Bernard Sebastian of the Church of Evangelical Truth. Whiskey-drinking Murdock isn't exactly suited for the clergy, and his cover begins to unravel when he meets a former lady friend, a sheep rancher with a touchy history, and a stone-cold Texas Ranger. A series of ambushes and deaths build to a churchly gun battle where everybody is throwing lead and dropping dead. This is one of Estleman's best, a smart, tightly wrapped story about an honest lawman who drinks Old Forester and knows the difference between a Presbyterian and a Unitarian.