Saturday, June 8, 2019

An Odd Setting for a Western

Del Monte Hotel, Monterey, California

No Peace, A Steve Dancy Tale takes place at the Hotel Del Monte in Monterey, California. A resort overlooking the Pacific Ocean may seem an odd setting for a Western, but not to worry, Steve finds a way to get into trouble.

Actually, it's difficult to get further West than the Pacific Ocean, and California had its share of desperadoes. The Hotel Del Monte provides an interesting setting and remains in use today. During WWII, the building and grounds were requisitioned by the navy. In 1951, the Naval Academy postgraduate school moved from Annapolis to facilities in Monterey. The hotel is now called Herrmann Hall, the main building of the Naval Postgraduate School.

No Peace takes place a few years after Steve and Virginia ride off to enjoy their honeymoon at the end of Crossing the Animas. Life has been quiet for the newlyweds, so a family gathering in Monterey seemed to pose no apprehensions. Steve could not be more wrong. A duly elected sheriff and gang leader has consolidated his outlaws with the local Mexican bandits and a Chinese tong that controls the docks. With peace between the three rival gangs, there is no peace for the residents and visitors.
“How can I find this leader of the white gang?” Dancy asked.
“People don’t go looking for him. Ever. He sends people to find you. If you did find him, you’d be out of your element … and outnumbered. He never meets anyone alone. He’s always got mean killers around him. Ruthless men, capable of anything.”
 “I have friends,” I said.
“A gentleman like you doesn’t have the right kind of friends for men like this. My advice: pay the ransom, go home.”
“I may pay the ransom, and I certainly will go home.” I leaned forward and lowered my voice. “If you won’t tell me how to find him, at least tell me his name?”
Nelson looked down at his lap and shook his head. Eventually, he looked up at me and shrugged. “Listen, his name is unimportant.” He leaned forward, hands folded, both forearms on his desk. “Stay away from him. He’s a murdering cutthroat who’d skin alive his own mother if there was money to be had. These are bad people. Very bad. Pay … and get the hell out of here.”
Honest westerns filled with dishonest characters.

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