Sunday, 18 January 2015

Blood Trail

By John Legg
Wolfpack Publishing, August 2014

Humiliated and left to die by a band of ruthless outlaws, Travis is saved by a man even harder than those who nearly killed him. Now, his hunt for his own brother becomes a quest…and the man who saved him shows him that a blood trail is the easiest to follow! And he must follow it to the end. His end, or his brother's.

This is the first book in a new series by John Legg, an author whose work I have enjoyed on many an occasion.

The story begins with the loss of Travis’ parents and of the struggles he faces to keep the family farm going whilst looking out for his brothers and sister. With failing crops and rebellious brothers this task proves too much. But there is hope, Travis meets a young lady and marries her. Shortly after this Travis hears one of his brothers has taken to the outlaw trail and he sets off to save him if he can leaving his newly wed wife behind.

John Legg then ups the pace, showing how Travis changes into a ruthless bounty hunter and the book becomes an action packed read. Finding his brother, though, becomes an almost impossible task but eventually they do face each other.

John Legg has always known how to create memorable characters and interesting twisting plots that challenge you to put the book down even for the briefest of moments. Blood Trail is no different in those respects. The end is dramatic and moving and left me eager to read the second book in the series, Blood Feud, that has recently been published.



Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Broken Arrow

By Dale Mike Rogers
Hale, December 2014

Erle Hawke is a drifter who sets out from his distant home in search of his brother. For years he finds no sign of his sibling. Unlike the boiling climate, the search has gone cold. Then, after riding into a sun-bleached town, Hawke is told that there is a ranch out in the arid desert looking for hands. The youngster does not realize that the town locals are lying. They are sending him to his death in the uncharted desert.

As Erle slowly begins to succumb to the ferocious heat, and is running out of precious water, a strange vision appears. As Hawke stares into the shimmering heat-haze he sees a chilling character riding towards him: an Indian, painted from head to toe, and sat astride a powerful black horse – the mysterious Broken Arrow.

The above blurb all takes place in the opening pages of this very fast moving story. The questions of who is Broken Arrow and what does he want, remain unanswered for much of the tale, and many more questions offer a number of puzzles to the reader.

Dale Mike Rogers switches regularly between the various groups of characters that are all converging on the same place, many unware of the others existence. As well as Hawke and Broken Arrow there’s a vicious group of killers searching for a long lost treasure, three lawmen tracking the killers, and an unnamed forgotten band of Indians who are shadowing them all.

Dale Mike Rogers is another of Michael D. George’s pseudonyms and this book contains all his current trademarks; excellent descriptive prose that often paints horrific imagery, a lack of women, referring to people as creatures, a breathless pace, and bloody violence.

George’s tales are some of the shorter books that Hale publish under their Black Horse banner and can easily be read in one sitting. If you’ve never tried this author then Broken Arrow could be just the place to start.


Monday, 5 January 2015

The Slocum series comes to an end

SLOCUM #430:
SLOCUM'S SILVER BURDEN
By Jake Logan
Jove, December 2014

Down on his luck in San Francisco, John Slocum takes a contract with the Central California Railroad. He’s given the difficult task of locating a stolen shipment of silver worth over ten thousand dollars, but he catches a break when he discovers that the company’s attractive secretary, Tamara, was an accomplice in the robbery. Too bad his employer would rather believe in the thief’s feminine wiles than in Slocum’s cold hard facts.

Fuming mad and out of work, Slocum starts looking to let off some steam. But when Tamara offers Slocum a new job – finding where the rest of the robbers stowed the loot – he has a hard time saying no to the seductive crook, or to a change of fortune. Still, Slocum knows he has to keep his cards close to the chest, or else he might end up six feet under…

The Slocum series first hit the shelves way back in 1975, the books being published by Playboy. It wasn’t until 1983, when the series was taken over by Berkley that a new book appeared monthly. Jake Logan, is of course a pseudonym behind which a great many different writers wrote over the years, many of whom are held in high acclaim in the western genre, which means there are more than a fistful of excellent reads to be found in the series.

Slocum’s Silver Burden is the last book in America’s longest running Western series but does it bring the series to an end in style?

I would think followers of the series will be more than pleased with this book for it does bring about a conclusion to John Slocum’s many years of riding the trail, sometimes on the side of the law and more often than not on the opposite side. Here Slocum tries to help the railroad but when he’s tossed aside he decides to help himself to whatever he can get as pay back. But this is where the real problems occur as the stolen silver is hidden in four different places and those responsible have a bad habit of dying before revealing where the silver is hidden.

There is also other complications, such as whether Tamara can be trusted. And what of the bounty hunters? Are they looking to claim the reward for returning the silver to its rightful owners or are they hoping to ride off into the sunset with the small fortune? Whichever trail they choose they aren’t going to let Slocum stand in the way, which means there’s plenty of action to be found in this story.

I’m not sure who has written this book but I will say it is well written, moves forward at pace, contains a number of surprises, and, as I’ve already mentioned, brings the series to a neat ending. 



Friday, 2 January 2015

Longshot

By C.J. Sommers
Hale, December 2014

More than a decade ago the Red Butte boys had been one of the most powerful and deadly gangs in Arizona Territory; pulling off the Big Springs robbery and netting $50,000 in gold certificates, before disappearing. Since then, no sign of the gang or gold certificates had been seen and it was assumed that the gang was living off the proceeds of the heist in Mexico.

But when one of the certificates surfaces in the town of Bisbee, the Bank Examiner’s Office hopes that the trail of the robbers can be traced. And who better to take on this ghost hunt than the tenacious Laredo?

Laredo makes for an intriguing lead character, a man who thinks of retiring after each case, a man who enjoys the chase but not the killing. But this assignment may be too much for him; just how do you find a gang that vanished so long ago?

C.J. Sommers’ story moves forwards at a tremendous pace, filled with action as someone doesn’t like Laredo nosing around. Hidden identities are one of the problems Laredo has to figure out and there’s also a couple of neat twists along the way. And what of the talkative Alicia? How much does she really know and what angle is she playing? Obviously I can’t answer those questions here, but I will say she is part of a surprising ending for someone.

As I’ve revealed a number of times on Western Fiction Review, C.J. Sommers is a pseudonym used by Paul Lederer, a writer who should be on the reading list of all fans of the western genre. If you’ve yet to try his work then this book could well be the ideal starting place.



For some reason I cannot find this book for sale at Amazon.com

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Westerns read during 2014

Didn't manage to read as many westerns this year but still feel I read a good variety of styles and different authors. Click the number to go to the book review.


JANUARY READS – 8 books

1. Nunslinger #1: Nunslinger by Stark Holborn
2. The Gunsmith #385: The Silent Deputy by J.R. Roberts
3. The Trailsman #387: Apache Vendetta by Jon Sharpe
4. Shotgun by C. Courtney Joyner
5. Missouri in Flames by W.R. Benton
6. Long Ridin’ Man by Jake Douglas
7. Haunted Falls by Farmer and Stienke
8. The Iron Horse by Paul Bedford


FEBRUARY READS – 7 books

9. Bitter Trail by Dale Graham
10. Stillman’s War by Peter Brandvold
11. Little Man and the Dixon County War by Stan R. Mitchell
12. Follow the Stone by John Locke
13. Last Stage from Hell’s Mouth by Derek Rutherford
14. Dalton and the Sundown Kid by Ed Law
15. Skyhorse by John Ladd


MARCH READS – 7 books

16. Shawn O’Brien: Town Tamer by William W. Johnstone with J.A. Johnstone
17. The Landon Saga 2: Entwined Paths by Tell Cotton
18. The Trailsman #389: Outlaw Trackdown by Jon Sharpe
19. Wrath of the Savage by Charles G. West
20. Dig Two Graves by Peter Wilson
21. Back from Boot Hill by Colin Bainbridge
22. The Hunt for Iron Eyes by Rory Black


APRIL READS – 5 books

23. The Cheyenne Trail a Ralph Compton novel by Jory Sherman
24. The Spanish Bit Saga #21: Thunderstick by Don Coldsmith
25. Cartridge Creek by John Benteen writing as Richard Meade
26. The Landon Saga 3: Cooper by Tell Cotton
27. Diablo by Chuck Tyrell


MAY READS – 7 books

28. Dark Mesa by Hank J. Kirby
29. The Trailsman #391: Night Terror by Jon Sharpe
30. White Wind by C. J. Sommers
31. The Judge #9: Border War by Hank Edwards
32. The Badge #6: The Showdown by Bill Reno
33. The Devil’s Anvil by Steve Hayes
34. Cougar Tracks by Owen G. Irons


JUNE READS – 8 books

35. Bowen and Baile #4: Trapped! By Frank Roderus
36. Nebraska Shoot-out by Corba Sunman
37. Fargo: Apache Raiders by John Benteen
38. Left-Hand Kelly by Elisabeth Grace Foley
39. Incident at Confederate Gulch by Ethan Harker
40. The Devil’s Ambush by Peter Brandvold
41. The Hangrope Posse by Scott Connor
42. Incident at River Bend by Lee Lejeune


JULY READS – 8 books

43. The Trailsman 392: Colorado Carnage by Jon Sharpe
44. The Hardest Ride by Gordon L. Rottman
45. Caleb Thorn #5: Death River by L. J. Coburn
46. Hannie Caulder by William Terry
47. The Trailsman 393: Six-Gun Inferno by Jon Sharpe
48. The Magnificent Mendozas by Ross Morton
49. Wild West Detective by James Clay
50. Apache Spring by J.D. Kincaid


AUGUST READS – 7 books

51. Crow 7: One-Eyed Death by James W. Marvin
52. Vengeance at Sundown by Larry D. Sweazy
53. The Iron Horse Chronicles #1: Eagle Talons by Robert Lee Murphy
54. Dry Gulch Revenge by Clay More
55. Hood by Jake Douglas
56. The Trailsman #394: Burning Bullets by Jon Sharpe
57. The Shoestringers by C.J. Sommers


SEPTEMBER READS – 4 books

58. Gaylord’s Badge by John Benteen writing as Richard Meade
59. The Revenger #4: Gold Dust Woman by Frank Leslie
60. Bullet Catch Showdown by I.J. Parnham
61. Comanche Dawn by Jake Shipley


OCTOBER READS – 5 books

62. The Landon Saga #4: Rondo by Tell Cotten
63. Dynamite Express by Gillian F. Taylor
64. Badlanders by David Robbins
65. Cougar Prowls by Owen G. irons
66. Stearn’s Break by Caleb Rand


NOVEMBER READS – 6 books

67. A Bullet for Lawless by Steve Hayes
68. Wilderness #68: Savage Hearts by David Robbins
69. Sundance 5: Taps at Little Big Horn by John Benteen
70. Reaper by Lee Clinton
71. The Lawman and the Songbird by Chap O’Keefe
72. Dead Man Draw by Walt Keene


DECEMBER READS - 7 books 

73. The Outlaws of Salty’s Notch by Will Keen
74. The Trailsman #398: Arizona Ambushers by Jon Sharpe
75. Sam Spur #2: Man in the Saddle by Matt Chisholm
76. Saloon Justice by Jay Clanton
77. Slocum #430: Slocum’s Silver Burden by Jake Logan
78. Longshot by C.J. Sommers
79. Blood Trail by John Legg

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Ebook News

John Legg, who has had many westerns published under both his own name and a variety of pseudonyms, is now putting some of his back catalouge out as ebooks and is releasing some brand new work alongside them. You can find an interview I did with him here.




January 5th 2015 sees the publication of the first three in a brand new multi-author adult western series called Blaze! All three are available for pre-order.
"J.D. and Kate Blaze are two of the deadliest gunfighters the Old West has ever seen. They also happen to be husband and wife, as passionate in their love for each other as they are in their quest for justice on the violent frontier!"




Paul Lederer has now made is highly acclaimed five book Spectros series available as ebooks. Whilst not strictly Westerns as they cross the genre with fantasy they have always appealed to western fans, so if you fancy something a little bit different then these are well worth your consideration.




Tony Masero continues to put out brand new material, both series westerns and stand-alones. Tony is perhaps better known as a cover artist first rising to prominence in the western field when he painted the U.K. covers for George G. Gilman's books. As well as painting his own covers his excellent artwork can be seen fronting many of Piccadilly Publishing's releases. An interview with Tony can be found here.


Friday, 26 December 2014

Man in the Saddle

SAM SPUR #2
By Matt Chisholm writing as Cy James
Piccadilly Publishing, December 2014

First published by Panther Books, March 1966.

Two braves came up to Spur and ripped the remains of his shirt from his body. The sweat poured down him. Then the man wearing the buffalo horns turned and faced him. In his hands he held a hot iron. He was still smiling. He capered a little, dancing nearer and nearer to Spur, hopping on alternate feet, crooning a gentle song.

When he was close to Spur he held the iron near his eyes. The white man dropped his lids against the heat and his heart pounded in his breast like a drum.

It’s going to be damned hard, he thought, to show these boys how a man can die…

The book opens with a frantic attempt by a mother to save her young daughter from Kiowas, a task doomed to failure and the little girl is snatched. After this the story never lets up in the action stakes as Sam Spur tries to find, and rescue, the kidnapped child.

To say Spur is a tough character is an understatement. The threat of death during gunfights or torture can’t dent his resolve to complete his mission. This leads to some very tense confrontations with the Kiowa that also involves bluff and double-cross, culminating in desperate bid for freedom whilst facing vastly superior odds.

Originally published under the author name of Cy James, Piccadilly Publishing have added the writers much more well-known name of Matt Chisholm, which in itself is also a pseudonym. The author’s real name being Peter Watts, an Englishman who at the height of his career was one of, if not the, biggest selling western writer in the UK and he has always been one of my all-time favourites.

So, if you’ve yet to try any of Watts’ work, then this book could be just the place to start if you enjoy hard-hitting, non-stop action westerns.