When a thirteen-year-old boy strikes out on his own in 1885, leaving his Civil War- ravaged Mississippi homeland for the wild Red River borderland between North Texas and Indian Territory, the American West is a land beyond the reach of the law. Crime thrives in the absence of law officers, courtrooms, judges, and jails. Vigilante justice, the posse, and the hangman's noose fill the void. But by the time the young man-now a veteran outlaw-dies by the gun in 1929 after a tempestuous career, the Old West has been largely tamed, its official legal systems firmly in place.Veteran defense attorney and prosecutor Bill Neal takes readers from Mississippi to the frontiers of West Texas, Indian Territory, New Mexico Territory, and finally the frozen Montana wilderness through a series of linked, true-life tales of crimes and trials. Tracing the struggles of incipient criminal justice in the Southwest through an engaging progression of outlaws and lawmen, plus a host of colorful frontier trial lawyers and judges, Neal reveals how law and societymatured together.
As a practicing criminal lawyer, Bill Neal spent more than four decades frequenting county courthouses in West Texas and hearing tales of sensational crimes and celebrated trials ofbygone years. A two-time winner of the Rupert N. Richardson Award, Neal has garnered honors from the National Association for Outlaw and Lawmen History, the West Texas Historical Association, the Writers' League of Texas, and the Western Writers of America. He and his wife, Gayla, live in Abilene, Texas.