Cover image for Port hazard : a Page Murdock novel
Port hazard : a Page Murdock novel
Estleman, Loren D.
Personal Author:
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
Waterville, ME : Thorndike Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
389 pages (large print) ; 23 cm
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X Adult Large Print - Floating collection Floating Collection - Large Print

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Page Murdock doesn't know why someone sent hired killers after him, but he knows where they're coming from. & With an unwilling backup man, Murdock takes up temporary residence among the whores, gamblers, dope addicts, and cutthroats of the continent's foulest district-San Francisco's Barbary Coast. No man here is trustworthy. The enemies he's really worried about, though, are the men who run things, the politicians. & Murdock's quest takes him into Chinatown, into opium dens, and into league with a man of an alien culture who controls vices that make respectable people quail. & Loren D. Estleman's latest tale of Page Murdock delivers excitement and satisfaction as only Estleman can.

Author Notes

Loren D. Estleman was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan on September 15, 1952. He received a B.A. in English literature and journalism from Eastern Michigan University in 1974. He spent several years as a reporter on the police beat before leaving to write full time in 1980. He wrote book reviews for such newspapers as The New York Times and The Washington Post and contributed articles to such periodicals as TV Guide.

He is a writer of mysteries and westerns. His first novel was published in 1976 and since then he has published more than 70 books including the Amos Walker series, Writing the Popular Novel, Roy and Lillie: A Love Story, The Confessions of Al Capone, and a The Branch and the Scaffold. He received four Shamus Awards from the Private Eye Writers of America, five Golden Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America, the Owen Wister Award for lifetime achievement from Western Writers of America, and the Michigan Author's Award in 1997.

(Bowker Author Biography) He lives in Whitmore Lake, Michigan.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Deputy U.S. Marshal Page Murdock usually roams the open trails and cow towns of the West in his dead-or-alive search for outlaws and miscreants. Federal judge Harlan Blackthorne has a different venue for Murdock's next assignment: California's Barbary Coast. A militant wing of the Sons of the Confederacy, located in San Francisco, is assassinating anyone who impedes its efforts to revive interest in secession from the union. Murdock is chosen to cut off the splinter group's head by eliminating its leadership. With former slave and ex-Union soldier Edward Anderson Beecher as his right hand, Murdock settles into San Francisco, where he discovers that it isn't the whores, drug addicts, and Chinese gangs of the Barbary Coast who hold the most significant threat to his mission and his life; rather, it's the politicians, captains of industry, and other respectable citizens. Murdock has survived because he's tough; this time he'll have to be as cunning as his prey. Estleman, at home in many genres, here mixes noir and the Old West, as Murdock literally walks off the trail and onto the mean streets. A wildly entertaining read with great period atmosphere and dialogue. --Wes Lukowsky Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Western writer and crime novelist Estleman (White Desert, etc.), winner of both Shamus and Spur Awards, is at the top of his game in this latest installment in a series featuring Page Murdock, deputy U.S. marshal. Murdock may be a peace officer, but there's little real peace when the cynical, crusty deputy is around. Together with his boss, Judge Harlan Blackthorne, a hardcase jurist who never met an outlaw he wouldn't hang, he serves up swift justice in the Montana Territory in the 1880s. Murdock is puzzled by assassins repeatedly trying to kill him when he is minding his own business, but the judge discovers the motive. A shady conspiracy called the Sons of the Confederacy is plotting to renew the Civil War, and their first step is to murder prominent lawmen and other public officials. The judge, unconcerned about jurisdictional niceties, sends Murdock to San Francisco, the home of the conspirators, to root them out before their aim improves. Murdock deputizes his own backup by hiring a black ex-soldier named Beecher, who is armed with a fearsome Le Mat pistol that fires shotgun shells. Murdock and Beecher find themselves awash in the filth and corruption of San Francisco's Barbary Coast, surrounded by gamblers, drunks, vigilantes, whores, petty thugs, crooked politicians and the deadly Chinese gangs called tongs. Their investigation reveals much more than they expected, including an undercover Pinkerton detective, a dwarf with an iron ball on a chain attached to the stump of his arm and a dead man who isn't really dead. Snappy dialogue, fast-paced action, colorful characters and plenty of bullets, booze and blood make this western crime drama a wicked romp through the legendary gutters of the Barbary Coast. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter 1 I was killing a conductor on the Northern Pacific between Butte and Garrison when my orders changed. He wasn't a real conductor. They all have bad feet, to begin with, and the three-inch Texas heels poking out of his serge cuffs caught my eye just before he tried to punch my ticket with an Arkansas toothpick the size of a sickle. I was half out of my seat and used the momentum to grasp his wrist, deflect the blade, and butt him under the chin, crushing the crown of a good pinch hat and making him bite through his tongue. He bled out both corners of his mouth. I drew my Deane-Adams awkwardly with my left hand, jammed it into his crotch, and fired. He fell on top of me, there not being any other place to fall in a sleeping compartment. I had several pounds on him and I'm not a big man, but deadweight is deadweight. I was still climbing out from under when someone knocked at the door. In the throbbing echo of the .45's report, he might have been tapping on a door at the other end of the train. I was plastered with blood from collar to knees when I opened the door. The Negro porter paled beneath his deep brown pigment at the sight of the blood and the revolver in my hand, but he had an old scar on his cheek that looked combat-related, a saber cut, and in any case, they're trained by Pullman not to panic easily. He held out a Western Union envelope. "Wireless for Deputy Murdock," he said. I holstered the Deane-Adams, tore open the flap, and read while he took in the heap on the floor: RETURN TO HELENA AT ONCE STOP YOUR LIFE IS IN DANGER BLACKTHORNE "That man ain't a conductor on this train," said the porter. "I guessed that when he tried to hack me open. Is there a detective aboard?" "No, sir. We ain't been robbed on this run all year." "When do we get to Garrison?" He had a little trouble thumbing open the lid on his turnip watch. "Eighteen minutes." "The town marshal's name is Krueger. He knows me. Send someone to tell him I'll need help with this extra baggage." "I needs to tell the conductor." "If that's his uniform, you might have trouble getting an answer." He dipped a knee and turned the dead man half over on his side. Then he stood. "Yes, sir. Mr. Fenady was missing that there third button this morning. You reckon this fellow kilt him?" "He didn't strike me as the bargaining kind. What's that?" I pointed to something on the floor that glinted. He bent and picked it up. "It must of dropped out of his pocket when I turned him over." He handed it to me. It was a double eagle, solid gold, the size of a cartwheel dollar. It threw back light in insolent sheets, and the edges of the eagle's wings were sharp enough to cut a finger. "See if there are any more." If I expected the porter to balk at the prospect of rifling a dead man's pockets, I was disappointed. He knelt again, and in less than a minute he rose, shaking his head. He was used to searching drunken passengers for their tickets to find out where they belonged. I felt the coin, reading san francisco, california, with the ball of my thumb. "Is your Mr. Fenady the kind to carry around uncirculated double eagles?" "No, sir, he sure ain't. That, or he lied about not having the cash to replace that lost button." I pocketed the coin. He watched without expression. I said, "You want a receipt?" "No, sir." He turned to go. I put a hand on his arm, stopping him. It was hard under the uniform sleeve, roped with muscle from carrying trunks and hoisting fat women aboard parlor cars. "Thirty-sixth Infantry?" I asked. "No, sir. Tenth Cavalry. Buffalo soldiers. I was too young to serve in the War of Emancipation." "That doesn't look like a tomahawk scar." He grinned joylessly. "Wasn't always the red man we was fighting, sir." "What's your name?" "Edward Anderson Beecher." "Did you ever consider serving the law, Beecher?" "What's the pension?" "No pension. Congress covers the cost of your burial." "Thank you, sir. I reckon I'll go on taking my chances with Mr. J. J. Hill." "That's the problem. The good ones are too smart to serve for the money." He said nothing, saying plenty. "Don't forget to tell Marshal Krueger about the double eagle," I said. That took a moment to filter through. This time when he grinned, the sun came out. "Yes, sir." "Did you think I intended to keep it a secret?" "It ain't my place to think, sir." "I'm a killer, not a thief." "Yes, sir." "Stop calling me sir. I quit the army in sixty-five." "Yes, boss." After he left, I took the coin back out and weighed it on my palm. Its face value was twenty dollars. That bothered me more than the attack. I'd thought my life was worth a little more. Copyright © 2004 by Loren D. Estleman Excerpted from Port Hazard by Loren D. Estleman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.