Coldiron - The Thieves is number 5 of the Coldiron series. The series has received high praise from national reviewers such as Booklist, Bookmarks, and Kirkus. It is a rousing saga of adventure, romance and violence set in the rugged frontier of New Mexico and old Mexico.
The time is 1846 and President Polk orders General Zachary Taylor to march his small American Army of 5,000 men, encamped at Corpus Christi, Texas, to the Rio Grande and start a war with Mexico. A war that will decide the future ownership of the American Southwest; Arizona, New Mexico and California.
Sixteen year old Charlie Bell, mother dead and deserted by his father, works as a blacksmith's to survive. Hating the charcoal smoke burning his lungs and the ear bursting clang of iron hammers pounding on iron, he lies about his age and joins the Army. The Army marches west to the Rio Grande, the disputed boundary between the United Sates and Mexico. Taylor dares the Mexicans to attack.
The Mexicans attack and Taylor marches his army into Mexico. Out-numbered three to one, the Americans fight four fierce battles, at Resaca de la Palma, Palo Alto, Monterrey, and Buena Vista, and defeat the Mexicans. To survive the savage attack of the Mexicans, Charlie kills with musket and bayonet.
At Buena Vista and while fighting a young Mexican soldier, a cannon ball lands near them and explodes. Both men are seriously wounded.
While healing from his wound in the army hospital, Charlie visits the wounded Mexican soldier Ernesto Armentes, taken prisoner and now healing in the prisoners' hospital. Over the next days they become friends. Upon healing from their wounds, both young me weary of killing strike out for New Mexico to make their fortune.
They fight their way through the outlaws of the deserts and mountains of Mexico. Near Torreon, they kill bandits to save a mother and her young daughter from being raped. They arrive in Santa Fe and find New Mexico is a land of conquered Mexican people. The Americans, with but a tiny force of five hundred soldiers, are trying to maintain law and order in the huge territory.
Charlie and Ernesto, after two years of hard work with Charlie blacksmithing and Ernesto farming his father's small section of land, find they can never acquire enough money to build the horse ranch they desire. There is only one way to accomplish this. They steal a herd of filly colts. They make the mistake of stealing from Luke Coldiron, who has the best horses in New Mexico. They hurry away with the colts into the mountains to find a valley for their rancho.
Max Cleland a ruthless Texan has come into New Mexico with a band of killers to rob the conquered Mexicans of their land. He kills a friend of Luke's and steals his large rancho, a Land Grant given to him by the King of Spain generations ago. The Army Commandant, fearing that Cleland's killing and thievery will cause the Mexicans to revolt against his small American force, asks Luke to find Cleland and his band of killers.
As Luke prepares to search for Cleland and his band, he discovers that a score of his colts have been stolen. He hurries into the mountains to track down and hang the horse thieves, and to kill Cleland and his band.
Thus begins a searing saga of search and vengeance as Luke turns hunter and killer.