Monday, 20 October 2014

Rondo

THE LANDON SAGA #4
By Tell Cotten
Solstice Publishing, September 2014

When Rondo Landon accepts the sheriff’s job, he has hopes of marriage and settling down. 

But things unravel quickly for the young sheriff. An old friend is killed, and Rondo’s past continues to haunt him when a mysterious stranger rides into town. 

Like the previous three books this one proved to be difficult to put down. You don’t need to have read those books to appreciate this one but your enjoyment maybe enhanced if you do so. Rondo is, effectively, a stand-alone tale but it does mention past events, and with the inclusion of Lee and Clark there is a continuation of a plotline begun in book 3.

Told mainly in the first person, through Rondo, we witness the once outlaw attempting to walk on the right side of the law. Maybe even get married. Yet a shadow from his past might destroy these dreams in a blaze of gunfire. Watching Rondo trying to avoid this inevitable confrontation makes for effective reading whilst he tries to discover the whereabouts of a missing man which will lead to more deadly situations.

Lee and Clark provide many of the more light-hearted moments and will stand by their friend when needed…..and when they aren’t.

Full of great dialogue, plenty of action, and a twisting storyline, Rondo proved to be a pleasure to read. Tell Cotten brings this fast-moving tale to a satisfying conclusion but still leaves a couple of story threads dangling, thus ensuring that this reader is already anticipating the fifth book in the series, Yancy, which is to be published in the not too distant future.



Also available as an ebook.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Dynamite Express

By Gillian F. Taylor
Hale, September 2014

Sheriff Alec Lawson has come a long way from the Scottish Highlands and work is never slow as he deals with a kidnapped woman from China, moonshine that’s sending those who drink it blind and a terrifying incident involving a moving train.

But when a man is found dead out in the wild, Sheriff Lawson starts to wonder if the one and only witness might not be telling him the whole truth as to what really happened and decides to start digging deeper….

This book sees Gillian Taylor bringing back Sheriff Lawson, who previously appeared in Silver Express. The main storyline, that of solving a murder, sees Taylor blending western and detective elements perfectly to provide a gripping read full of questions that Lawson will struggle to answer even using photographs of the dead man to help.

The other major story thread, that of the deadly moonshine, and discovering who is making it, leads to a neat shootout that should satisfy all western fans. But this exchange of gunfire is nothing compared to the dramatic and extremely memorable conclusion to the murder case, and its destructive finale was something that I didn’t see coming.

Will Lawson return in a third book? I certainly hope so as Taylor leaves what looks like a blossoming love triangle unresolved and I for one would really like to see how this pans out.

Dynamite Express proved to be a very entertaining book that I believe will be enjoyed by all western readers and probably by those who like detective novels too. 

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Gold Dust Woman

THE REVENGER #4
By Frank Leslie
Mean Pete Press, August 2014

A beautiful ranch woman from Lincoln County, New Mexico, wants Sartain to kill her husband, a county sheriff under Pat Garrett. The woman thinks her husband, possessed by an evil Apache spirit, murdered their three young sons. 

Is Everett Chance really evil or is his wife just plain loco? 

But that’s only the beginning of Sartain’s problems. 

He’s also tracked the last surviving killer of his beloved Jewel to the town of Gold Dust where, sporting a couple of the Revenger’s own bullets, Scrum Wallace is being protected by a handful of Lincoln County renegades, including the Gold Dust town Marshal. 

Two jobs have overlapped, and the tall, handsome Cajun finds himself in one hell of a whipsaw! 

Sartain is an intriguing hero, or should that be anti-hero? How the law sees right and wrong is of no concern to him, and payment is not needed. If he decides someone needs help in dealing out revenge then he will do so gladly. Of course not everyone sees things as he does and this creates some tense situations.

Sartain has to decide if the woman who hired him is telling the truth or if she is in fact the crazy one. Frank Leslie really does an excellent job in making the reader suspect first the husband, then the wife, then the husband, and so on, until you’ll have no idea as to who Sartain will kill, if anyone. Finding the answer out to this question really does make this a difficult to put down read.

Starting with a cracking barroom shootout that sees Sartain taking on massive odds Frank Leslie sets the tone for the rest of this savage tale. There’s plenty of violent action as the two story threads become entwined, something Sartain takes in his stride and deals with bullet by bullet.

Of course it’s no secret that Frank Leslie is a pseudonym used by Peter Brandvold, and fans of his work will not want to miss this new series. If you’ve yet to discover his writing, like extremely fast paced books filled with brutal violence, and in the case of this series some graphic bedroom scenes, then grab a copy now as I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Me? I’m already looking forward to book 5.


Thursday, 2 October 2014

Comanche Dawn

By Jake Shipley
Hale, September 2014

Out chasing outlaws Texas Ranger Cal Avery comes across a wrecked stagecoach, and a dead man and woman nearby. In a gully, under a juniper bush, lies another young woman, thrown clear when the coach went over and who cannot remember anything.

When a cavalry supply train comes along with Avery’s old friend, Jumbo Jepson, as the lead teamster, he decides that travelling with them is the best course of action. But in Cal’s absence, unscrupulous Indian Agent, Jake Elkins, has bribed men to swear that Cal has gunned down two innocent men in cold blood, and now there is a warrant out for his arrest.

The travellers must head for the safety of Fort Griffin, avoiding the pursuing Indians, and the corrupt law, who are trying to halt their progress….

This is the first book I’ve read carrying the author name of Jake Shipley and it’s his third I believe. Unusually for westerns being written today the bulk of the story is that of cavalry verses Indians. The first half of the book builds to a prolonged battle between the two sides that is extremely well told and makes for some gripping reading.

When the survivors finally make it to safety Avery must then face judge and jury in a trial that it seems he cannot possibly come out of a free man.

So, if you still enjoy those classic cavalry verses Indian confrontations, then this is a book you really should consider tracking down. I found it to be a very enjoyable read and I now want to dig out Jake Shipley’s previous books that I have somewhere in my collection as I’m sure they’ll be as equally entertaining.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Bullet Catch Showdown

By I.J. Parnham
Hale, September 2014

The stage magician Malachi Muldoon is the world’s most dangerous practitioner of the arcane arts with his performance of the notorious bullet catch. And his show in Bear Creek draws the interest of Adam Clements, and Deputy Hayward Knight, although for very different reasons. While Clements is keen to join Malachi on stage and become part of his act, Haywood is out to try and solve an old mystery: it seems that wherever Malachi Muldoon performs, a trail of bodies is left behind.

Before long, Adam and Haywood are embroiled in Malachi’s web of deception. Can they unmask the guilty when they are forced into a showdown with a man who hides the truth in plain sight?

Misdirection is often used by magicians to fool their audiences and here Ian Parnham proves that writers have perfected that art too. Parnham manages to easily lead the reader into believing they know who the killer is yet manages to conceal the motive until he is ready to expose the truth. Even then there are more surprises waiting.

Filled with terrific characters this twisting tale cannot fail to grab the readers’ imagination. As well as the dramatic and tense bullet catch performances there are more deadly exchanges of gunfire. Then there’s the mystery of why one man is trying to bring an end to Muldoon’s show and why does he keep telling Clements that if he becomes part of the act he will die?

Ian Parnham has once again written a gripping book that is extremely hard to put down. With many unforeseen twists and turns I’m sure most readers will enjoy Bullet Catch Showdown immensely.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Gaylord's Badge

By John Benteen writing as Richard Meade
Piccadilly Publishing, September 2014
First published by Doubleday, 1975

Nothing in Sheriff Frank Gaylord’s background had ever prepared him for this. Pushing forty years of age, but still strong and fast with a gun, Gaylord truly believed he’d done a good job in Colter County.

But there was talk behind his back. Talk about how he was secretly on the payroll of the Chain Ranch. Talk about how he favoured the large cattle barons over the small ranchers. And now, as his re-election approached, more than Gaylord’s job was on the line. His honour and the lives of his best friends were in jeopardy as well.

Sheriff Gaylord had always been an honest lawman, but when wealth, power and a beautiful woman are dangled in front of him, it looks like Gaylord’s badge is about to be bought. And suddenly, Frank Gaylord must meet his most dangerous enemy yet – himself. 

Sheriff Frank Gaylord makes for a very engaging lead character. Sure he’s flawed but he believes he is doing the right thing. Believes he is upholding the law as it should be. Yet slowly he begins to see how others might believe he has been bought, causing a lot of self-examination and this is the main thrust of this fascinating story.

The election campaigns throw up many questions and it seems Gaylord is bound to win but he, and his backers, have forgotten one thing. Wyoming has given women the right to vote and they seem to be behind the opposition.

John Benteen really builds the tension well and at no time is it obvious who will come out on top. Then the killings begin and everything is thrown into doubt and confusion runs rampant, particularly with who is playing who and to the true motive and identity of one of the characters.

I found this book to be a gripping read. A story that tells a little of Wyoming’s history with the female vote and of the powers behind large cattle empires that blends perfectly into the fictional part of the tale. There’s also some surprise deaths, and plenty of gunplay.

So, once again, John Benteen proves that he is a writer all western fans should read.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Burning Bullets

THE TRAILSMAN #394
By Jon Sharpe
Signet, August 2014

1861, the Flathead Lake country – where a tinderbox of hate ignited an inferno of violence.

Fargo is guiding a squad of horse troopers to Flathead country to check on homesteaders, when he comes across a pack of vicious varmints up from Texas causing no end of terror for the settlers. And there’s only one man who can take on the troublemakers: the Trailsman.

Taking on a bunch of killers is the least of Fargo’s problems in this extremely fast moving tale. The Trailsman has to deal with a love-struck young woman who has set her mind on marrying him! Something Fargo dreads. How he tackles this situation tests his patience and makes for some excellent reading that often had me grinning.

As well as terrific dialogue, the action scenes are breath-taking, especially those during the latter part of the book when a far greater danger than marriage or savage killers threatens all: fire.

Jon Sharpe, in this case David Robbins writing behind the pseudonym, really does excel in his descriptions of the frantic attempts of man and animal to escape the all-consuming flames. The superb cover painting gives you some idea of the situations Fargo finds himself in.

Does everyone escape the forest fire? Does Fargo manage to talk his way out of marriage without hurting anyone’s feelings? Grab yourself a copy of this book and I’m sure you’ll be as thoroughly entertained as I was finding out the answers.