Rio Ruidoso Cover

Rio Ruidoso

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Three Rivers Trilogy, 1
Genre: Historical Western
Publisher: Five Star Publishing
Date of Publication: February 19, 2020
Number of Pages: 299

2017 Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association:
Best Creative Work on West Texas
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Rio Ruidoso book cover

Rio Ruidoso offers a gripping blend of history and story as two-time Spur Award-winner Preston Lewis explores the violent years before the famed Lincoln County War in New Mexico Territory. Seamlessly weaving fact with fiction, the author details the county’s corruption, racism, and violence through the eyes of protagonist Wes Bracken, newly arrived in the region to start a horse ranch with his alcoholic brother.

Bracken’s dreams for the Mirror B Ranch are threatened by his brother’s drunkenness, the corruption of economic kingpin Lawrence G. Murphy, and the murderous rampages of the racist Horrell Brothers. To bring tranquility to Lincoln County, Bracken must defeat those threats and stand his ground against the ever-changing alliances that complicate life and prosperity in multi-racial Lincoln County.

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Six images relating to the story. Explanations follow in the text.


GHOST: I’ve never believed in ghosts, but during a visit last year to the visitors center in Lincoln I snapped this photo of one of the panels describing the five-day battle that culminated the Lincoln County War. If you look closely, you see a shadowing figure behind the panel. My grandson told me it was just a shadow of me, but I like to believe it’s the spirit of Billy the Kid still walking the streets of Lincoln.

HIDING SPACE: Down the street from the Lincoln County Courthouse is the Tunstall store, originally built by Billy the Kid’s employer whose murder started the Lincoln County War. In a back bedroom of the store is a hiding space beneath the floor. Billy the Kid or some of the Regulators who rode with him may well have hidden here during some of the violence that engulfed the town during the Lincoln County War.

COURTHOUSE: What is today known as the Lincoln County Courthouse was originally the store of Lawrence G. Murphy, a principal figure in the corruption that resulted in the Lincoln County War. After the store was purchased by the county, it served as the courthouse where Billy the Kid made his famous escape, killing two deputies in the process.

BILLY: The life-size image of Billy the Kid today greets visitors to the famous historic site in Lincoln, New Mexico. A visit to Lincoln and the courthouse when I was not yet 10 created in me an everlasting fascination with the Old West and its rich heritage. Billy the Kid remains my favorite character from the frontier.

BULLET HOLE: In the wall at the foot of the Lincoln County Courthouse is a hole that was said to have been made by a gunshot Billy the Kid fired at Deputy Bell. The hole was enlarged over the years by souvenir hunters, until an acrylic cover was installed to protect it. Though much smaller when I first saw it, the cavity made a lasting impression on me as a young boy the first time I saw it.

STAIRS: As a boy and many times since, I walked up this staircase where Billy the Kid once trod. While climbing these stairs, William H. Bonney got the jump on Deputy James W. Bell and shot him. While Bell staggered outside and died, Billy raced upstairs and shot a Bob Olinger with his own shotgun when the deputy came to investigate from the Wortley Hotel where he had gone to lunch.

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Preston Lewis Author Photo

Preston Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of thirty novels. In addition to his two Western Writers of America Spurs, he received the 2018 Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Western Humor for Bluster’s Last Stand, the fourth volume in his comic western series The Memoirs of H. H. Lomax. Two other books in that series were Spur finalists. His comic western The Fleecing of Fort Griffin received the Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association for best creative work on the region.

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1ST PRIZE: Signed Copies of Rio Ruidoso & Bluster’s Last Stand
2ND PRIZE: Signed Copy of Rio Ruidoso
FEBRUARY 18-28, 2020
(U.S. Only)
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One thought on “Rio Ruidoso

  1. So neat! Loved seeing the pics from Lincoln 😀 Nothing beats when an author has done the historical research to back up books like this. Looking forward to reading more from Lewis in the future.

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