TEXAS: I Hope He Dies

Main Street in tiny Boyd, Texas (pop. 550) is two-lane, string-straight, smooth-paved—and ideal as a drag strip for the rambunctious local hot-rodders, who went roaring through town at night, leaving empty beer cans and angry citizens in their wild wake. Finally, in October 1956, Boyd decided to stop the hot-rodders by hiring cops for the first time. By last week, plainly convinced that the cure was worse than the disease, Boyd was a town full of cop haters.

Law came to Boyd, 28 miles north of Fort Worth, in the beefy person of hard-boiled Lee Cockrell, onetime stockyard worker and...