The title story, The Hanging Tree, is based on a true episode in Montana’s gold-mining past. Three amazing characters meet: the cynical Doc Frail; the boy robber named Rune, whom Doc saves and enslaves; and Elizabeth, the young easterner who survives an Indian assault and comes under the care of Doc and Rune. In the gold-mining camp of Skull Creek Elizabeth becomes the mysterious Lucky Lady. A vigorous, psychological western, The Hanging Tree was made into a movie starring Gary Cooper.
The stories in this book consolidate Dorothy M. Johnson’s reputation for authenticity and artistic integrity. “Lost Sister” is based on the recapture of Cynthia Ann Parker, a white woman abducted by the Comanche Indians. “The Man Who Knew the Buckskin Kid” tells of two married people and an outlaw who share a secret. Fully as arresting are “The Last Boast,” “Journal of Adventure,” “I Woke Up Wicked,” “The Gift by the Wagon,” “A Time for Greatness,” “The Story of Charley,” and “Blanket Squaw.”