In the 1800’s, justice and law in towns like Butte Montana and Nome Alaska were almost non-existent. Early on they were mining towns mostly involved in mining gold. It was very rough and tumble for those who lived there.
Also in the 1800’s, the railroads were being built from east to west and west to east. Many of the laborers were Chinese immigrants imported from China as indentured workers.
Justice in the Last Frontier is a novel that starts out with a Chinese man named Fang Fu Cheng who was raised as a Shaolin Monk.
The name the other monks started to call Fang was Ling. Ling means clever, intelligent and spiritual. All the monks also knew Ling had been taught to fight as a combination of a tiger and a dragon. This was all part of his training in becoming a Shaolin Monk
After his training, Ling marries and leaves the temple and immigrated to the U.S. as an indentured laborer working for a railroad. Ling raises an adopted son named Zack when Zack's Irish father, a friend of Ling's, was murdered. Ling manages to pass on his training as a Shaolin Monk to Zack. Zack eventually grows up and becomes a U.S. Marshall charged with keeping the peace in such places as Butte Montana and Nome Alaska. His activities and methods are exciting, adventurous and dangerous. Zack also has a family and children that play a big and important role in his life.
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It all starts with lING
Ling, as a young man in China, defending his girlfriend:
After Ling had decided they better head back. Ling saw a group of young men standing down on the path about a hundred yards a head. In a few minutes Ling and Shu was approaching where the young men were standing. Ling gave them a smile, but didn’t say anything. The young men stepped out blocking their path. They were asking questions of why a monk had a good looking sexy girl like her with him. Ling picked up on the demeanor really quick. Ling asked very politely to let them pass, they were only out for a walk. The young men started asking vulgar questions, did you get any, does she do it.
Ling stepped back a few yards from the young men, anticipating what they intended to do. As the young men came at him he stepped in front of Shu. He placed the staff sideways in front of him and hit the first one alongside the head, he went down immediately. He moved the staff into a vertical position and hit the next one under the jaw, down he went. Ling knelt down and hit the third one across the shins, he fell back yelling you broke my legs. The fourth one stepped back away from Ling and off to one side of the path. He pulled a large knife out from under his shirt.
Ling moved around farther in front of Shu, she was telling Ling to be careful. The young man came straight at Ling. Ling had the staff down next along his side, with a straight forward thrust hitting him in the mid-section he doubled over and couldn’t breathe. Ling picked up the knife and threw hard, way out into the brush. Ling turned around and took Shu by the hand and lead her down the path past the young men. Ling didn’t kill any of them, but they were completely demobilized.
Chapter 27 . . . Zack in action
When Zack finally caught up with Bjorn, he had traveled all the way into Cody Montana. The town was named after Buffalo bill “Cody” in 1894. The town is located at the base of the big horn mountain range, just south of Yellowstone. The Shoshone River cuts back and forth three times through the city. It wasn’t until the treaty with the Indians was ratified in 1868 that white settlers were permitted to settle in Cody. Cody was one of the last cities to be settled in the US. The population was just under 250 people.
The last fifty miles proved to be a challenge for Zack. The terrain was hard to travel over, and it had gotten very cold. The higher elevation still had snow on many places. Zack had to travel slower. He arrived in the town at dinner time on Thursday night. He found the local Sheriff’s office but it was closed. Zack walked down the boardwalk until he found a mercantile store that was opened. He asked about the sheriff and where he could find him. The sheriff had a permanent room at the hotel, evidently supplied by the town council. One of the perks to keep a sheriff.
Zack walked across the street to a single story building, Buffalo Bill Hotel. Zack walked in just as the sheriff was walking past the desk. Zack saw his badge. He asked, “Excuse me, are you the Sheriff”? The man paused and was shaking his head yes as he said he was. “What can I do for you stranger?” the sheriff asked. He was a middle aged man, average height and build. Definitely on the handsome side. He wore his peace maker low to the right side, and tied to his leg. He had the appearance of a gun fighter. He certainly fit the image of a western Wyoming sheriff.
Zack pulled his coat open and showed his badge as he introduced himself as a U.S. Marshal from Montana. “I’m after a man named Bjorn Krisgangn. He’s wanted for questioning in the murder of a Butte Montana resident. The sheriff, Bill Sherman, said, “There is a new stranger in town, it seems as though he had some friends here when he arrived. I don’t know where he is at this time. They can usually be found at the Elk Horn Saloon. Almost all the men in town go in there at some time during the course of the evening.” Zack asked, “I wonder if you would be willing to accompany me over there? I could sure use the back up of another fellow lawman.”
The sheriff was actually flattered a U.S. Marshal was asking him to help. The sheriff was definitely an experienced lawman. The first thing he did was check his weapon and made sure all chambers in the cylinder had bullets in them. Likewise, Zack always did the same thing. The two men walked across the street and down the short distance on the boardwalk to the saloon. As they came through the door, Zack stood there for a moment to get the lay of the land. The sheriff nodded to Zack pointing out the three men at the corner table. Zack immediately picked out Bjorn. He was sitting in a chair with his back to the wall, facing the entrance.
Bjorn saw the sheriff instantly. He was also eyeballing the stranger with him. Zack took the lead. The sheriff was watching the other two men at the table. Zack slowly approached the table, keeping an eye clued to Bjorn. Looking directly at Bjorn he asked, “Are you Bjorn Krisgangn?” The man said, “Who the hell wants to know?” Zack opened his coat to show his badge and said he was a U.S. Marshal from Butte Montana. You’re wanted for questioning in the murder of Tom Elliot with the Anaconda mine. Bjorn said, “Never heard of him.” Zack replied, “I know different. We have witnesses that saw you and you used to work for the mine. You’re under arrest. I’m, taking you back.”
At that moment the table was turned over forcing Zack and Bill to step back out of the way. Zack saw Bjorn reaching for his knife. Bjorn was a lot bigger man than Zack anticipated. Zack took one step closer to Bjorn and then fired a kick hitting Bjorn right between the legs. Bjorn went down. He was still able to take a swing with his knife as he was falling. The knife caught Zack across the front part of his thigh on the right side. Zack had on thick denim pants but the knife was razor sharp. It put a large gash across the thigh. It was a surface wound but was long and bleeding a lot.
Bjorn was now laying curled up on the floor. Zack stepped on Bjorn’s hand that was holding the knife. You could hear the fingers break, snapping like walnuts. Bjorn was already in pain from the kick to the balls and now he let out a loud moan. Then said, “You son of a bitch, I’m going to kill you.” Zack stepped to one side and placed a kick under the bottom of Bjorn’s chin. Bjorn’s head jerked back and then leaned to one side and blacked out.
Zack turned his attention to the two men who were now moving away from the table trying to get behind the sheriff. Zack told the men to stop and put their hands in the air. The man to the far left began to draw his pistol. Both Bill and Zack drew and fired, hitting the man with two bullets both in the heart. Bill matched the speed on the draw with Zack. Zack never saw anyone else ever match him. The man fell to the floor. He was dead.
The other man had his hand on his pistol but stopped where he was. Bill reached over and took his gun, stepping behind the man he said give me your hands. Bill cuffed him from behind. Zack rolled Bjorn over and put both his arms behind him and cuffed him. Both Bill and Zack looked for any other weapons. The other man had a knife, but Bjorn was clean. Zack could tell three of Bjorn’s fingers were broken and possibly his jaw.
May 29, 2016
I really had a great time editing this novel. For one thing, I think you've done some excellent research, and there are all kinds of interesting facts about the time period, the relations between Chinese immigrants and the rest of America (especially in these frontier towns), and the places themselves, which you really bring to life. You made me me want to do more reading on both the period and the places. And I have to say that the addition of kung fu to this genre really made the story for me. The fight scenes were fantastic -- usually the highlight of each chapter. You have a real knack for conveying the rhythm of the fight, which can be very difficult to do in narrative form.
I think the best action scene, for me, though was the bear attack on Zack. It was excellent! The encounter was packed with suspense, and there was an authenticity to the way in which you described both the bear and the attack. You definitely seem to have a talent for writing believable, realistic animal attacks!
I really liked the characters in this book, too. Zack was a great heroic protagonist, and his character was really rounded out by his relationships with the people around him (who were all interesting in their own right): Ling, Jia, Grizz, Big Jim, and the list goes on. And the surprise visit by Wyatt Earp was also a great moment.
Thank you for letting me read and work through another of your novels. I hope you keep writing, and I'd love to see more!