Letter From Wyoming
By C.J. Box
C J Box addresses the issue of blood feuds in the Joe Pickett book In Plain Sight which is due to be published on 1 July 2011.
Wyoming isn’t known for family feuds – no more than any other place. I credit this with a combination of transients, transplants, and a healthy live-and-let live attitude that makes judgments on men depending on what they do and how they act rather than where they come from.
But there are exceptions. And as a young newspaper reporter in a small remote ranching town, I had a front row seat to a family squabble that went nuclear. I didn’t want to get involved or take sides – no one did. But there was no choice.
The Curse of the Third Generation Ranch is what lawyers and accountants call it. The first generation are those who bought or homesteaded the land, fought the elements and the bad guys, and eked out an existence in the hardscrabble Rocky Mountains. They passed on their property and legacy to the second generation, whose blood still ran hot with the legacy. Then the third generation came along. They never knew any of the hardships, but were born to wealth and privilege. And when it came time to running, selling, or dividing the land -- things sometimes went badly.
The feud I witnessed involved two sixty-something brothers who had lived their lives under the crushing thumb of their mother, who ran the ranch with brutal efficiency and pitted them against each other for her affection. When she died, hell broke loose.
The town became divided in loyalty to one brother or the other. They insisted on it. Meanwhile, each recruited thugs as ranch hands or, in effect, private armies. Incidents began: an employee for one brother beaten by a shovel by employees of the other; pickups and equipment set on fire during the night; two ranch hands who were sent to gather cattle and simply never came back. The battle raged for two years.
All because mom refused to choose.
COMPETITION TIMEOut of Range is the fifth in the Joe Pickett series, published by Corvus. The next Joe Pickett adventure In Plain Sight, is due to published on the 1st July 2011.
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