is Number 1 of the Coldiron Series. The series has received high praise from national book reviewers such as Booklist, Bookmarks and Kirkus.
With an awesome list of stirring Western novels, F. M. Parker has won acclaim as a master story teller. In Judge And Executioner, he has created a story that thrills the imagination and charges the emotions.
Judge And Executioner is the first of the Coldiron series.
The time is 1843. Young Luke Coldiron rides into the trackless Rocky Mountains. There he builds a cabin and scouts for beaver for the winter trapping. Far away on the great prairie, his partner Tarpenning steals the beautiful Arapaho Indian maiden Morning Mist and carries her into the mountains to give love to the two men in the long winter nights.
Falling under the spell of Morning Mist, Tarpenning refuses to share her with Luke. This often drives Luke away from the cabin on long, solitary hunts.
In the spring, in a battle with fur thieves, Tarpenning is killed. Luke and Morning Mist survive. On the way out of the mountains in the spring, Morning Mist’s horse is spooked by a mountain lion and she is thrown and is killed. Luke is now alone with a tiny bundle of girl child, the child of Tarpenning and Morning Mist. Unable to care for the new born, he searches out a family with a new born child and surrenders the child to the woman and man to feed and raise.
During the next twenty years Coldiron builds a great horse ranch in the high valley in the mountains where he had trapped with Tarpenning and Morning Mist. And where he had buried them.
His famous horses bring thieves. Luke becomes judge and executioner and kills the thieves as they come into his valley. Then a powerful Mexican bandit rides north with his fierce band of pistoleros and steals his magnificent heard of horses and drives them into Mexico. And the child of Tarpenning and Morning Mist, now a woman, appears in the mountains to slay Luke for killing her mother.
"Luke awoke from a deep sleep by the sounds of Tarpenning’s and Morning Mist’s lovemaking. He could not but listen to their excited, hurried breathing and creak of their bed a little more than a body length away.
He felt himself hardening and, with an oath, sprang from his bed, jerked on moccasins and coat and plunged through the cabin door into the winter night. He ran through the sub-zero cold, with the rays of a full moon bathing the night in a weak silver light and the snow crackling and crunching beneath his hurried footsteps.
For a long distance he raced through the trees and over the snow covered meadows, cooling his hot, lusting blood with strenuous action. Finally with his throat and lungs burning from breathing the frigid air, he halted.
He stood in the stark, silent valley and let the last of his fiery passion for Morning Mist drain away. Around him the dim shapes of the nearer objects, framed by the snow, could be seen. With distance, the snow and trees faded into an amorphous gray whiteness. Against the sky to the north, the tall mountain peaks blocked out a hand’s width of twinkling stars.
His frost nipped ears began to ache for he had left without his cap. H e cupped the aching ears into his hands, turned and started the return journey to the cabin."