Cover image for The ghost with blue eyes
The ghost with blue eyes
Randisi, Robert J.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Leisure Books, 1999.
Physical Description:
215 pages ; 18 cm
Format :


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Material Type
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Central Library X Adult Mass Market Paperback Central Closed Stacks

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Lancaster finds his dreams--as well as his waking moments--haunted by the vision of a blue-eyed little girl he had shot years earlier.

Author Notes

Robert J. Randisi was a mystery writer who, in 1979, was asked to create a Western Series to be published by Charter Books. He created the Gunsmith Series, writing under the pseudonym J. R. Roberts, which he followed with a story in the Tracker Series as Tom Cutter and seven other western series under seven other pseudonyms. He has also written several Mystery stories as well.

Randisi is the author of over 400 novels, 40 short stories, has edited 25 anthologies and has written under 15 pseudonyms. He founded the Private Eye Writers of America and created the Shamus Award. He is co-founder of Mystery Scene Magazine and the American Crime Writer's League. Randisi has also the edited Mean Streets and the Private Eye Writers of America's newsletter. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southwest Mystery Convention and has been nomiated for the Shamus Award four times.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Randisi's (Targett) short but intense western delivers exciting plot in spare, exacting prose. After the gunfighter known only as Lancaster turns down a $10,000 offer to kill a man (Lancaster provides protection but he's not a killer-for-hire), he is forced into a gunfight with his would-be target, with tragic results: Lancaster accidentally kills a six-year-old girl. Haunted by the memory of the girl's vivid blue eyes, Lancaster moves to another town, where he gives up the gun and becomes the town drunk. But fate steps in to change his life once again when he meets nine-year-old Alicia and her mother, who are on the run from Alicia's abusive father, rich and powerful Aaron Delaware. Alicia's mother is killed by one of Delaware's hired guns and Delaware arrives to claim his daughter, but Lancaster comes to the rescue and takes Alicia to the best person he can think of to care for herÄthe mother of the girl he killed. Readers will experience the pleasures found in old "B" Westerns: the simple (but not simplistic) moral opposition between good and evil and the inspiration of personal redemption. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One When Lancaster woke he stared up at a cracked, yellowing ceiling. It took him a moment to collect his thoughts and recollect everything that had happened.     He heard voices that seemed to be coming from far away, perhaps outside. He turned his head and saw that he was in a room with two men.     "What--" he said, but nothing else came out. The one word, however, was sufficient to attract the attention of the two men. He saw that one of them was wearing a badge. The other was wearing a white coat, and Lancaster assumed he was a doctor.     "How do you feel?" the doctor asked.     He felt lousy. His shoulder hurt, and he said so.     "The bullet hit you high up, so there was no damage to the heart. You were lucky."     Lancaster wet his lips.     "McCray."     "The other man? He's dead. He got one last shot off at you and then died."     Lancaster wet his lips again and spoke slowly.     And the little girl?"     "Becky Pickens," the doctor said. "I'm sorry, she's dead."     Lancaster turned his head to took at the sheriff, but instead he saw the little girl standing there, staring at him with those startling blue eyes.... Dunworthy, Texas--March 1884 "Jesus!" he shouted, and sat up.     He looked around him at the darkened room and realized that he'd had the dream once again. It was accurate except for the little girl replacing the sheriff. He had awakened in the doctor's office after the doctor had removed the bullet from his shoulder and bandaged him. He had looked over at the sheriff, at which time the man had ordered him to leave town. He had heard the murmer of voices from the mob outside that wanted to string him up for what happened to eight-year-old Becky Pickens. It didn't matter to them that it was an accident. If Lancaster had died and McCray had survived they would have wanted to hang him instead.     Lancaster looked around the dingy room and slowly remembered where he was, in a small room behind the saloon in Dunworthy, Texas.     After leaving Big Bend, Kansas, he had traveled quite a bit from town to town, but he could not seem to outrun the dreams, in which the girl with the blue eyes visited him. She seemed like a blue-eyed ghost, following him wherever he went, until he finally sought refuge in the bottle--but the whiskey just seemed to make her visits more real.     He had gone to sleep fully dressed again, and was covered with sweat. He swung his feet to the floor and stood up from the pallet he used as a bed. He staggered to the back door and opened it, then staggered again as the sunlight struck his face. He leaned against the doorjamb for a moment, holding his hand up to shade his eyes from the sun, then stepped outside. He made his way to the horse trough, fell to his knees, and stuck his head in it. The water was stagnant and warm, but it washed away some of the cobwebs.     He pulled his head out of the trough and used both hands to brash his hair back. That done, he cupped some more water with his hands, robbing his face and eyes vigorously.     He stood and then sat on the edge of the trough. The water leaked from the point of his chin and pooled on the ground between his feet. He looked around at the area behind the saloon, then up at the sky. The sun was high, so he surmised it was nearly three in the afternoon. Had he gotten drunk the night before? Probably. The dream had seemed particularly vivid.     He had been in Dunworthy for three months now, working at the saloon as a swamper. The only thing that kept him from being the town drunk was that he did not get drunk every night. That honor belonged to Caleb Janeway. Old Caleb seemed to be drunk all the time, morning, noon, and night.     Lancaster knew he had sunk low, but he hadn't hit rock bottom yet. Maybe that was why he had chosen to stay in Dunworthy. As long as Caleb Janeway was at the bottom there would be no room for him.     He removed his shirt and bathed his chest and neck with the lukewarm water, then submerged his shirt and wrung it out. He put it on a nearby fence to dry. Did he have another? He couldn't remember.     He watched the water as it settled. When it was still and clear he could see his reflection, and then the reflection of something else, something with blue eyes. He turned quickly, but he couldn't catch her. He never could ... not that she was ever really there. He knew that. Still, seeing her like that was better than the times when she actually spoke to him....     He stood up and walked back to the saloon, entering the back room again. He looked around to see if he had another shirt. He opened an old chest that the owner was letting him use in lieu of a dresser. He did indeed have another shirt, and as he took it out he saw his gun and gunbelt.     It had been six months since the shooting of the little girl. He'd traveled for three months, wearing the gun but not using it again. When he settled in Dunworthy he decided to take the gun off and put it away. It had been in that chest ever since.     He closed the chest on the gun and donned the shirt. It wasn't exactly clean, but at least he hadn't sweated through it during the night.     He left the room and went out into the saloon. Dunworthy was a small town, but a growing one. The saloon was busier at three in the afternoon on this day than it was when he first walked into it. Frank, the owner and bartender, said it would be even busier three months from now.     "Lancaster," somebody said by way of greeting, and Lancaster just waved and kept going.     "Poor bastard," the man who'd greeted him said as he went by.     "He's a drank," another man said.     There were three men sitting at a table, and the third man said, "I heard he was pretty good with a gun once. I wonder what happened?"     "He's a drunk" the second man said again.     "Yeah, but what made him a drank?"     "Same thing makes anybody a drunk," the third man said. "He fell into a bottle one day and couldn't get out. Still can't."     "Can't be more than what? Thirty?" the first man said. It had been a long time since he'd seen thirty--or since any of the three of them had.     "He looks forty" the second man said "That's what bein' a drank does to ya."     "Still," the first man said, shaking his head, "it's a shame...." Lancaster got to the batwing doors of the saloon and stopped, stating outside.     "Hey, Lancaster!" Frank Keller yelled from behind the bar. He had been a handsome man most of his life, but as he got older he got heavier, until, middle-aged now, he tended bar because he thought it would hide his girth.     Lancaster turned and looked at him.     "Ya didn't sweep up this morning'."     "I overslept."     "Yeah, well, ya do it again and you're fired, ya hear?" Frank shouted, not caring who heard.     "I hear," Lancaster said, and stepped outside, wondering how he'd gotten to this point in his life. Six months earlier he'd been fine, happy even, working, doing what he was good at and then that damned little girl had to run between him and McCray.     It wasn't even that she had died. It was that, even dead, she wouldn't go away. It was that he always seemed to see those blue eyes; whether he was asleep or awake.     They were supposed to be closed forever. Goddammit, why wouldn't they close? Copyright © 1999 Robert J. Randisi. All rights reserved.

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