Bill Riley's Head by Douglas Hirt
WHAT WOULD ONE DO FOR MONEY AND LOVE?
The love being Francine Toutant. The money being one Bill Riley – notorious Dakota Territory outlaw.
Bounty hunter T.J. Ragland is riding across the bleak Dakota Territory carrying the head of Bill Riley in a gunny sack, bound for Fort Leavenworth where a $3,000 bounty reward awaits him. Reaching the sorry little town of Bend City, tucked into a wide bend in the Missouri River, Ragland intends to catch a riverboat to Fort Leavenworth. Due to some poor decisions, Bill Riley's head is stolen.
Marshal Bethany Bulger is a no-nonsense sort of woman who would like nothing better than for Ragland to leave town. Ragland finds this curious until he discovers that Bethany and some other folks are neck deep in insurance fraud. Throw in a drunken Indian, an undercover Pinkerton's detective, foreign agents, and murder, and Ragland quickly discovers a lot more is happening in Bend City than its sleepy appearance suggests.