William Queen's story, subtitled, "The Hunt for One of America's Most Wanted Criminals," tells of Queen's obsession with tracking and capturing Mark Stephens, known as "mountain man" to the California communities from Pomona to San Bernardino. Queen, in his third year as a Special Agent with the Department of the Treasury's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, kept stumbling across stories about Stephens, and soon, his interest in the stories became a compulsion to capture him.
Queen himself was a lone wolf who loved to go undercover, putting his life on the line. He thought his place was on the streets, and in the trenches. He had been in law enforcement for over a decade. He was an ex-Green Beret, Special Forces in Vietnam. He was raised a southern country boy, son of an agent who tracked moonshiners, and he started to take it personal that Stephens couldn't be caught.
Stephens was a dangerous, gun-crazy renegade who terrorized Southern California, and even threatened his own parents. He was a gunman, a mountain man, and a drug trafficker who grew marijuana on federal land in the San Bernardino Mountains. He had eluded all law enforcement agents.
And, then Queen took an interest in Mark Stephens. William Queen's story of building a case against Stephens, and tracking him into the mountains is a compelling story of one lone wolf tracking another one. Queen reveals the bureaucracy and drudgery involved in building a case, but he also pulls no punches about the danger, and, for him, the excitement of the challenge.
Armed and Dangerous could be the story of Mark Stephens, but it could also be the description of William Queen, a determined law enforcement agent, resentful of the man who was holding a county hostage. It's a riveting story for any true crime collection.
Armed and Dangerous: The Hunt for One of America's Most Wanted Criminals by William Queen and Douglas Century. Random House, ©2007. ISBN 978-1-4000-6577-4 (hardcover), 224p.
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