The year is 1871. Stagecoaches are being held up in alarming numbers. A woman passenger is reported missing after the Visalia Overland Stage is robbed above the Elkhorn Station by the notorious outlaw, Tiburcio Vasquez.
Harry Caldwell runs a small spread east of Visalia in California’s Central Valley. The woman’s nephew pressures Harry to join the posse that is being formed in Visalia to pursue the bandit and aid in the search for the missing passenger. Harry allows that the missing woman, Cora Belle Skinner, could most likely make Salt Water Taffy out of the bandit’s hide, but that doesn’t mitigate the fact that she’s missing.
Taking into account that he had enjoyed a short dalliance with her when she first arrived in the area, he feels obliged to help with the search. But finding Cora Belle, and unraveling the mystery surrounding her disappearance, proves to be as difficult as capturing the elusive outlaw, Vasquez.
This fictional story is woven around historical facts and established landmarks in the region known as the Arroyo de Cantua located on the Westside of the San Joaquin Valley.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mary Martin Benton has been engaged in farming her entire life. She is a native of Visalia and resides in the rural area. She is the author of five novels. One is a traditional Western, “Winds of Time,” two are Historical, “Dulsey and Plain Molly,” a Mystery, “Bernetta, the not-so-good Witch,” and her latest, “Cantua Crossing,” Western/Mystery.
Two of her award-winning short stories appear in the anthology, “Leaves from the Valley Oak,” and were featured on PBS Valley Read, and one in, “The Best of SLO Nightwriters in Tolusa Press.” She is a member of the Visalia/Exeter Writers, San Joaquin Sisters in Crime, Central Coast Sisters in Crime, and SLO Nightwriters. Her books are available on Amazon books.com, and Kindle.