The Gunsmith 393: The Counterfeit Gunsmith by J. R. RobertsThe Gunsmith 393: The Counterfeit Gunsmith by J. R. Roberts

The Gunsmith 393: The Counterfeit Gunsmith

byJ. R. Roberts

Mass Market Paperback | August 26, 2014

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Clint Adams is in St. Louis to relax and play poker when an old friend calls on him for help. Secret Service Agent Jeremy Pike is in town under an assumed name, investigating a counterfeiting operation—and he knows he’s close when he’s ambushed and almost killed. Now he needs a man he can trust to pick up where he left off. A man like the Gunsmith.
Since anyone could be in on the scheme, Clint will have to play his cards close to the chest—even with the beautiful young woman claiming to be Pike’s contact—because this time he’s gambling with his life.
J.R. Roberts is the author of the long-running Gunsmith western series, featuring the adventures of gunslinger Clint Adams.
Title:The Gunsmith 393: The Counterfeit GunsmithFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:192 pages, 6.75 × 4.25 × 0.5 inPublished:August 26, 2014Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0515154962

ISBN - 13:9780515154962

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Read from the Book

ONEJeremy Pike looked at the hundred-dollar bill in his hand. He turned it over a few times, snapped it to test its strength, then put it down on the desk in front of him. The man he was seated across from picked it up and leaned back in his chair.“Whataya think, Pike?” the other man asked.“It looks damn good,” Pike said, “but it’s a fake.”“Are you sure?”“I’m positive.”The older man regarded him intently for a moment, then said, “Well, you’re right. It is fake. And it’s all over the country.”Pike stared back at the Secretary of the Treasury.“Why am I here, Mr. Secretary?”“We need somebody to go out there and find out who’s making these,” the Secretary said.“Why me?”“Frankly?”“Please, sir.”“West and Gordon are on other assignments and unavailable,” the Secretary said.“So I’m your third choice?”“Basically, yes.”Pike thought about that, then shrugged and said, “I guess I can live with that.”“Good.”“Where did this particular bill come from?”“It and a bunch like it were picked up in Missouri,” the Secretary said. “Saint Louis, to be exact.”“Was an arrest made?”“Unfortunately,” the Secretary said, “the gentleman who was passing these fake bills was killed when the bills were confiscated.”“I see,” Pike said. “Sir, am I supposed to work alone on this?”“Unless you can draft someone into your service,” the Secretary said. “Of course, at the time that you are ready to make an arrest, we can send in some military assistance for you.”“I appreciate that, sir,” Pike said.The Secretary opened the top drawer of his desk, took out a white envelope, and tossed it over to Pike’s side of the desk.“Traveling money,” he said. “If you find you need more, let me know, and you’ll be able to pick it up at any bank.”“Sir.” Pike grabbed up the envelope and tucked it into his jacket pocket.“That’s all,” the Secretary said. “Stay in touch.”“Directly, sir?”“Mr. Jenks will liaise between us,” the Secretary said. “Do you know Jenks?”“I do, sir.”“You don’t like him?”“I do not, sir.”“Hardly matters, does it?”“No, sir.”“He’s waiting for you outside.”“Yes, sir.”Pike stood up and left the office. The Secretary had been in Federal service for over thirty years, and had always been a man of few words and much candor. Pike appreciated that.Adam Jenks was, indeed, waiting for Pike outside the Secretary’s office. Jenks was in his thirties, had been working in the Treasury Department for ten years. As far as Pike knew, nobody liked him. Maybe not even the Secretary.“Pike.”“Jenks.”“I have your travel papers.” Jenks handed him a brown envelope. “Also the file on what we know so far.”“Thanks.”“You will dispose of the file after you’ve read it, of course.”“Of course.”“Your train leaves first thing tomorrow morning.”“Doesn’t give me much time to draft any help, does it?” Pike asked. “Unless you want to come along.”“Please,” Jenks said. “I know my limitations, Pike. I’d probably get us both killed.”Pike actually found a little more respect for the man after he said that.“I’ll walk you out,” Jenks said.Outside they stopped just in front of the Treasury Building.“Try not to mess this up, Pike,” Jenks said.“Thanks, Jenks.”“For what?”“For reminding me why I don’t like you.”“Please,” Jenks said, and went back inside.TWOTWO WEEKS LATERSAINT LOUIS, MISSOURI“Call.”Clint Adams tossed his chips into the pot without looking at his cards again. He knew very well what was in his hand. He set the five cards down on the table and waited to see what the other players would do.The first to act had been Jack Denim. He had made his fifty-dollar bet with a confident smile.Clint called.There were three other players.Barry Cord looked at the cards in his hand. They hadn’t changed.“I fold,” he said.Tom Curry had already set his cards down on the table, but now he lifted the corners to look again. The telltale sign of a man who had nothing.“I’m out.”The dealer of that particular hand was a local gambler named Crane, Henry Crane. He had his five cards in his hand, closed rather than fanned out. Clint watched his body language, his eyes. He never looked at the cards again.“I call,” he said, “and raise fifty.”The original bettor, Denim, stared at Crane.“What are you holdin’?” he asked.“Pay and see,” Crane said.“Oh, I call,” Denim said, peeking at his cards first. “And I raise a hundred.”Then he looked at Clint. “Your play, Adams.”Clint had not raised because he’d felt sure that Crane would. Now he felt sure he knew the strength of each man’s hand.“I’ll call both raises,” Clint said, “and add one of my own.”Denim glared at him.“But you didn’t raise when I did,” he said. “All you did was call.”Clint looked at the man. He was a townsman, not a gambler. Crane was a professional gambler. He was the one Clint had to beware of.“It’s my play,” Crane said. “Adams, you’re makin’ this interestin’.”“That’s my aim, Crane.”“Well,” Crane said, “let’s keep it interestin’, then. I call and raise.”“Sonofabitch!” Denim said.“Your play, Mr. Denim,” Crane said.“You fellas are workin’ together against me!” Denim said.Crane’s face went cold.“That sounds like a real uncomfortable accusation that we’re cheatin’, friend. That ain’t what you mean, is it?”“Relax, Crane,” Clint said. “Mr. Denim didn’t mean that, did you, Denim?”Denim actually looked like he was pouting.“I just—I just meant—”“Never mind,” Crane said. “What are you going to do, Denim?”The townsman frowned, looked pained, and then dropped his cards on the table, facedown. “I’m gonna fold.”“Adams?” Crane asked.“Well,” Clint said, “we could go round and round with this again, but I’ll just call so we can move on.”“Okay, there you go,” Crane said. He laid his cards out. “I got a pair of aces.”“What?” Denim said, shocked. “I had that beat!”Clint laid his cards down.“Two pairs, tens over threes.”Denim groaned, “I had that beat, too.”“Then you should’ve called,” Crane said. “Good hand, Adams. Well played.”“Thanks, Crane.”It was a quiet afternoon in the Blue Owl Saloon, which was on the Saint Louis waterfront. Clint had found this to be more comfortable for him than some of the more expensive, high-class hotels in the city. Crane was his kind of poker player, Denim was annoying, but the other two men were dockworkers that he was comfortable with. And if any of them had recognized him, no one had made a comment.As Denim picked up the cards and started to shuffle, the batwings swung in and a man wearing a badge entered.“Who’s that?” Crane asked.Clint, who could see the door clearly, said, “Looks like the sheriff.”“This city’s got a police department,” Crane said.“And a sheriff,” Barry Cord informed them.“What’s the sheriff do?” Clint asked.“Usually makes notifications of some kind,” Tom Curry said.“Well,” Clint said, “he’s coming over here for some reason.”“Deal the cards, Mr. Denim,” Crane said.Denim began to deal them out for another hand of five-card stud.“Clint Adams?” the sheriff said when he reached the table.“That’s me,” Clint said, scooping up his cards.“Can we talk?” the tall, fortyish lawman asked.Clint looked at his five totally mismatched cards, tossed them down, and said, “Might as well. I’m not going to be able to make anything out of these.” He looked at the lawman. “Buy you a beer?”THREEWhen they were each standing at the bar with a beer in hand, the badge toter said, “My name is Sheriff Carl Kinkaid.”“Clint Adams,” Clint said, “but you know that.”“I been lookin’ for you in some of our town’s better saloons,” Kinkaid said.“I find this place very comfortable,” Clint said, “but what is it that got you searching for me?”“The Saint Louis Police asked me to find you,” the sheriff said. “They’d like you to come in and have a talk with them.”“About what?”“That I don’t know,” Kinkaid said. “They just asked me to find you and . . . what did they say . . . oh yeah, invite you in for a talk.”“They didn’t give you any indication of what it was about?” he asked.“No,” Kinkaid said, “but if it makes you feel better, I don’t think they plan to arrest you.”“Well, that’s good,” Clint said, “because I haven’t done anything to get arrested for.”“Glad to hear it.”“So I’ll just finish this beer, collect my money, and you can show me where the police department is.”Kinkaid raised his mug and said, “Sounds like a plan.”* * *Sheriff Kinkaid took Clint down to Market Street to Police Headquarters, and stopped at the bottom of the steps.“Not coming in?” Clint asked.“No,” Kinkaid said. “I did my part. Thanks for the beer.”As the man walked away, Clint wondered, just for a moment, if he was walking himself into a bad situation on the word of a lawman he didn’t know. But in the end he decided to just go on in and see what the story was.He ascended the steps and approached the uniformed officer—a sergeant—who was manning the front desk.“Help ya?” the man asked.“My name is Clint Adams,” Clint said. “Sheriff Kinkaid asked me to come here.”“Who do you want to see?”“Well,” Clint said, “I guess that depends on who wants to see me.”The sergeant frowned, then sighed.“Stay here, I’ll check.”Clint remained standing at the desk and the sergeant soon returned with a young man wearing a charcoal gray suit.“Mr. Adams?”“That’s right.”“A pleasure, sir,” the man said, extending his hand for Clint to shake. “I’m Detective Edward Donnelly.”“Detective.”“Thank you very much for coming.”“Curiosity got the better of me.”“Well, I’m sure we can take care of that,” Donnelly said. “Why don’t you follow me?”As they started down a hallway, Clint asked, “Are we going to see your boss?”“No,” Donnelly said, “we’re going to my desk.”“But I thought—”“That somebody in authority wanted to see you?” Donnelly asked. “I’m sorry, it was just me.”“But the sheriff—”“Yes,” Donnelly said over his shoulder, “I visited the sheriff and asked him to find you for me.”“So . . . your boss doesn’t know about this meeting?”As they reached a desk, Donnelly turned and said, “Mmm, not yet. Have a seat.”The detective sat behind his desk. Clint took a chair alongside it. Around them other men sat at desks, some alone, some with people they were questioning.“What’s this about?”“Many of these detectives are working on a case involving counterfeit hundred-dollar bills,” Donnelly said. “Some of them are looking for the men who are passing them. Still others are looking for whoever’s making them.”“But you have a different idea.”“Yes, I do.”“How does that involve me?”“There’s a man in town who says he knows you.”“Who?”“He says his name is Joshua Jones.”“I don’t know any Joshua Jones.”“Well, I don’t think that’s his real name,” Donnelly said.“Who do you think he is?”“I don’t know,” Donnelly said. “Maybe somebody who can help me.”“So what do you want from me?”“I want you to tell me who Joshua Jones really is.”“How would I know?”“Well,” Donnelly said, “he says he knows you. Maybe you know him. All you have to do is see him.”Clint thought about the request. It seemed simple enough.“Okay,” Clint said, “trot him on out here and I’ll take a look at him.”“Well, he’s not right here, in this building,” Donnelly said, “but I can take you to him.”“Is he far from here?”“Not far,” Donnelly said. “He’s in the hospital.”FOURDetective Donnelly got them a one-horse buggy and a uniformed police driver to take them to the hospital.“Wait here,” he told the man when they got out.“Yes, sir.”Donnelly led Clint into the hospital, down a hallway to a set of stairs, and up to the second floor. Along the way, they walked past white-clad doctors and nurses, patients walking in the halls, and even some visitors.“This room here,” Donnelly said, pointing to a closed door. There was another uniformed officer seated in a chair alongside it. He nodded to Donnelly.“Should I go in alone?”“Why?”“Well,” Clint said, “if you think he’s not giving you his real name, why would that change if you walk in there with me now?”“Hmm, I see what you mean. All right, then, Mr. Adams, go on in and see what you can find out,” Donnelly said. “I’ll be right here if you need me.”“Okay, Detective.”Clint turned to go in, but Donnelly called out to him again.“Adams?”“Yeah?”“Maybe I should hold on to your gun.”“Detective,” Clint said, “if that’s a condition of me going in, then we might as well forget it now.”“Mr. Adams—”“I don’t give up my gun, Detective,” Clint said. “Not under any circumstances.”“But—”“If you know who I am,” Clint went on, “then you’ll understand why.”Donnelly stood there for a moment, thinking, then said, “Well, okay, then. Go on in.”Clint turned to the door and opened it. When he entered, the man in the bed, who was sitting up, staring out the window, turned to look at him.“Clint.”“Hello, Jeremy.”Jeremy Pike had a bandage across his chest and down one arm. He had another on his head, but Clint was certainly able to recognize the man who was a member of the President’s Secret Service.“How’d you find out I was here?” Pike asked.Clint approached the bed.“The law,” Clint said. “In fact, they’re outside the door right now.”“Yeah, I know,” he said.“Well, you apparently mentioned me to someone. Detective Donnelly?”“Yes, that’s right.”“And he asked the sheriff to find me, which he did. I went to see Donnelly and he asked me to come and see you. So are you supposed to be Joshua Jones?”“Ah, yes . . .”“Why the phony name?”“I’m working,” Pike said.“Under the name ‘Joshua Jones,’” Clint said. “So that’s not just a name you gave the police.”“No,” he said. “That’s my cover name.”“So okay,” Clint said. “You came to Saint Louis as Joshua Jones to work on an assignment.”“Right.”“Obviously, something went wrong.”“Right again.”“And you ended up here,” Clint said. “What happened?”“I got jumped, and beat up, and kind of . . . shot.”“Kind of?”“Well, okay, shot.”“In the chest?”“Yeah,” Pike said, “high up on the left side. They left me for dead.”“But you didn’t die.”“No, somebody got me here in time.”“Who?”“I’m not sure.”“When did this happen?”“A few days ago.”“Why not tell the police what’s going on?”“I don’t know who I can trust in the police department,” Pike said.“Donnelly seems like a decent young man.”“Yeah, well, he doesn’t have much authority,” Pike said. “In fact, I’m surprised he got you here. He was ordered not to bother.”“Is that right?” Clint asked. “Seems not very good at taking orders, then.”“Well,” Pike said, “he’s got that in his favor anyway.”“So tell me,” Clint said, “how did you even know I was in Saint Louis?”“That’s kind of a story.”Clint sat on the edge of the bed and said, “It’s my guess that’s why I’m here.”FIVEJeremy Pike had arrived in Saint Louis by train, traveling under the name “Joshua Jones.” He’d registered at a hotel down near the docks, and started doing his drinking in the Blue Owl Saloon. The reason was that the file Jenks had given him said that the dead counterfeiter—or the man who was working for the counterfeiter—did his drinking there.