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from Stephen Mertz


After living 40 years here in Cochise County, Arizona just a few miles down the road from Tombstone, after daily stalking these desert sands soaked in the history and mythology of the old west, NORTH OF TOMBSTONE is a novel I HAD to write.

I’ve spent a lot of time in The Town Too Tough to Die, socializing with friends and working. I know Tombstone and its history and there are parts of that famous story I’ve always wanted to tell. See, there’s been so much written and filmed about the OK Corral gunfight etc. that opinions still vary as to whether the Earps were bringing law and order to the west . . . or simply eliminating trouble from their personal lives by mowing down rowdy but innocent cowboys. Then there’s the Apaches. By the time of the infamous Earp-Clanton feud, the “Indian problem” had pretty much been contained to the San Carlos reservation. However renegade braves regularly “jumped the rez” to terrorize outlying ranches—as in murder, stealing livestock and burning everything to the ground. The army detachment at Ft. Huachuca often organized civilian contingents out of Tombstone to assist in tracking down the renegades. And yet I can’t recall any book or film about the Tombstone mythology that melds those dual realities of feuding white folks also having to deal with rampaging Apaches. NORTH OF TOMBSTONE offers provocative views relevant to both those elements.

Now I ain’t sayin’ this is LONESOME DOVE or any such high-tone literary venture. Nope. NORTH OF TOMBSTONE is a hell-for-leather shoot ‘em up with tongue firmly in cheek and no apologies. It’s also your perfect opportunity to meet my series characters, Kate and JD Blaze.

The series characters I’ve created over the years have been good to me in terms of readers and critics. There’s Mark Stone, the MIA Hunter, who first kicked open the door for me in the writing game. There’s Kilroy, my long-haired PI in wide-open Denver of the 1970s. And Steve Madison, “industrial consultant” to the pop music industry. But of them all, honestly, Kate and JD are the most fun to write about. And if reader reviews are any indication, they’re equally fun to read about. They’re bounty hunters, two fast guns who also happen to be husband and wife.

NORTH OF TOMBSTONE is a saga of rustlers, Apaches and a pair of tough hombres named Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.

I had to write it.

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