Jamie Quinn is shot and left for dead by three men hunting an escaped slave. He crosses the state of Missouri and finds himself riding first with Jennison’s Jayhawkers and then with Bolin’s bushwackers. He saves one of the men he has been chasing from being sold downriver and, brings down a corrupt plantation owner. More
Jamie Quinn is shot and left for dead by three men hunting an escaped slave. After being nursed back to health by a squaw on the Otoe Reservation, he crosses the state of Missouri and finds himself riding first with Jennison’s Jayhawkers and then with Bolin’s bushwackers. He saves one of the men he has been chasing from being sold downriver and, with the help of a female Union spy, brings down a corrupt plantation owner. The story is set against the chaos of Missouri—one of the border states that refused to commit to either side during the Civil War. It traces Quinn’s odyssey from Kansas City to St.Louis and examines the devastating effects the war had on its citizens: The bonds and boundaries of trust in the social order are gone. Families and communities are destroyed; revenge and retaliation replace the rule of law; graft and corruption becomes its currency. Nothing is what it seems and the moral universe is in turmoil. Guerrillas ride roughshod across the landscape wearing any uniform that suits them. A black slave hunts a white runaway. Union soldiers capture fugitive slaves and their commanding officer trades them for horses. Union generals trade contraband with plantation owners to buy arms in Mexico.
It is the women in Quinn’s war who make a difference. There are the Oto battlefield nurse who heals him, the teacher who becomes a spy after her husband is executed in front of his family, the two prostitutes, one a white fugitive and the other a black runaway, who form their own relationship and work to protect each other.
Joe B. Slater is an Iowa farm boy who moved to California, taught English at Bakersfield High School, and retired to the mountains. He has written one good poem, one good story, and one good novel, and he is working on a song.