Russ Clayton has always enjoyed a good cowboy story, whether it’s a book, a TV series, or a movie! One of his favorites is Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove (both the book and the TV series) – which he has watched again and again! There’s nothing like the Old West to capture the imagination.

Russ decided to set his US Marshal Cal Cooper series in Hays City, Kansas, because of its colorful history and the reputation it once had of being one of the most violent towns on the Kansas frontier. But this is fiction, so he has taken some license by including establishments and lawmen that you won’t find in any history of Hays City (as well as some that are!)

Russ Clayton: Cal Cooper (Series 1) 



Outlaws murdered his father.

His grandfather died when fire drove him off his land.

And now his sister’s corrupt husband has his predatory eye on Cal’s inheritance.

Two years after the fire, Cal Cooper comes riding back into town as a US Deputy Marshal, determined to see that justice is done and make Hays City a safer place to live.

But the American West is a harsh place for some, and in an eerie echo of the tragedy that drove him to become a US Marshal, he hasn’t even set foot in the town before he sees smoke in the distance. He finds Artie Keys, a farmhand for the Parkers, lying on the road, bleeding from gunshot wounds.

Things quickly escalate, and Cal finds himself at odds with plenty of people in the town who have something to lose if he starts digging into their business.

There’s Woody Mason, a local rancher who has attracted the eye of the law more than once and likes to surround himself with trigger-happy henchmen. There’s Sheriff Garrett, who seems more interested in gambling and a bottle of whisky than keeping the peace. And there’s Gray Kincaid, his rich brother-in-law who has taken in Cal’s family and has some very good reasons to not want Cal looking more closely at where he gets his money.

Undeterred, Cal sets about finding out who burned down the Parker place, who’s gunning for him, and what Woody Mason and Gray Kincaid are really up to.




Everyone makes mistakes — and when Cal Cooper was a newly minted Deputy Marshal, he made a big one.

Now it’s coming back to haunt him.

Will he have to pay the ultimate price for shooting the son of an influential man?

Deputy Cal Cooper is slowly making his presence felt in Hays City, the railhead where outlaws and con men like to congregate.

But in the brash new American West, there are a lot of people seeking both fame and fortune, and a good many don’t care who they sacrifice to get what they want.

Cal’s own brother-in-law, Gray Kincaid, is one of those people, but Cal has to tread warily. His family, rendered homeless when a fire drove them off their land, rely on Kincaid for the roof over their heads, the food on their table, and the clothes on their backs.

Then exactly what he feared eventuates: Cal’s sixteen-year-old brother, Jake, ends up in hot water while trying to prove himself to his uncle. Cal has to find a way to rescue his brother, and at the same time figure out how to deal with the rumors circulating throughout the West about Deputy US Marshal Cooper’s inclination to shoot first and ask questions later. That, and avoid being killed by the man sent from back East to seek vengeance for a past lapse of judgment.

Watching his back and calling on people he can trust, Deputy Marshal Cooper sets out to prove that although he might have a gun on his hip and the law on his side, justice can triumph in many ways.