The Checker Board, Book Five: The End of Reckoning
In 1885 Dave Smith undertakes to track criminal Cassius Harding to Kansas. The man now operates as Josh Hardton, successfully amassing thousands of acres through a cunningly engineered river bed diversion and a bribed resurvey. Landowners are angry at losing valuable land through clever manipulation and outright fraud, and a shooting war threatens.
Dave resolves to work smarter than his previous encounter with Hardton. Dave has several run-ins with Lucy Allen, Hardton’s fiancée. Her perturbed reaction is to use a gun against Dave’s reprehensible behavior. Her vow is to kill him the next time.
With proof developed against Hardton, Dave waits to build legal action, but Hardton retaliates with night raiders against the very landowners who protested. The raiders wound Dave, forcing him to seek aid.
Lucy Allen suddenly controls the situation. The real threat is that she will turn him over to Hardton’s gang. Dave must save both their lives and he initiates altering the Allen woman’s outlook, telling her all of the things she hates to hear. Confronted with Hardton, she delivers the lie that sends away the menacing gang.
Dave successfully averts a stage holdup by Hardton’s gang to silence a government investigator. During the melee, Dave captures Hardton.
Lucy Allen blames Dave Smith for her failed life opportunity. Dave realizes Lucy Allen attitude needs adjusted. He sets about doing just that, and in the process discovers Lucy Allen is an extremely complicated young woman.
Over struggles to plan a new life, Dave learns his deceased father has engineered one last humiliation. Disinclined to accept revenge from the grave, Dave cuts off the beginning of a warm relationship with Lucy Allen, and disappears, heading back to his old fugitive existence.
As once sworn enemies the two collide, hurling words of recrimination, only to reach the end of reckoning in a surprising conclusion.