Thursday, 30 October 2014

Cougar Prowls

By Owen G. Irons
Hale, October 2014

Battle-hardened Carroll Cougar has finally made it home to his little ranch on Twin Creeks with his new bride, Ellen, after spending years with General Crook in the southwestern wars.

But Cougar and Ellen have left too many enemies alive behind them, and more have accumulated in Twin Creeks in their absence. With his home dangerously threatened, Cougar realizes his warrior years are far from behind him and the time has come for him to buckle on his guns and go out prowling, until he has defeated every last one of his enemies.

This book continues the storylines begun in Cougar Tracks and readers may like to read that one before this, although Owen G. Irons does include enough information for readers new to Cougar to understand what has happened previously.

The first seventy or so pages conclude the major story threads from the first book in a number of desperate and bloody confrontations that will also see Cougar struck dumb by some of the heart-breaking truths that are revealed and they surprised this reader too.

The rest of the book sees Cougar and Ellen attempting to begin a new life but trouble isn’t far away and Irons' uses this part of the tale to tie-up a situation that started right at the beginning of the first book.

Owen G. Irons is a pseudonym used by Paul Lederer, and as expected this book proved to be extremely difficult to put down. Full of gripping action scenes, well-crafted characters, and mystery – such as who is sniping at Cougar’s homestead and why? The story comes to a satisfying ending and I’m left looking forward to Paul’s next book and hoping that, just maybe, we haven’t heard the last of Cougar. 


Sunday, 26 October 2014

Badlanders

By David Robbins
Signet, October 2014

When Alexander Jessup moves with his two daughters to the Badlands to run a ranch, he’s unprepared for the West’s deadly perils. But despite the dangers, his daughter Edana is determined to manage the Diamond B. And it may be possible, thanks to the ranch’s foreman, Neal Bonner, and his partner, Jericho, an expert gunman.

But Edana’s headstrong sister, Isolda, has other plans. She has no interest in herding cows – or in polite society, for that matter. So she latches onto cutthroat conman Beaumont Adams, and the two scheme to take over the town of Whiskey Flats with the help of the worst criminals in the Badlands.

Now Edana, Neal, and Jericho must face down a pack of stone-cold thieves and murderers to avenge a death and to save Whiskey Flats – or die trying.

David Robbins’ latest stand-alone western is packed full of memorable characters which includes two very strong female leads whose true personalities are brought to the fore with their move to the West and by the men they fall for. Robbins’ includes some brief, yet detailed backgrounds for all his main players which goes some way into explaining why they act as they do.

Learning the ranching business is one part of the tale as is the brutal way Adams goes about taking over Whiskey Flats and I was soon wondering how these two seemingly unrelated storylines would be brought together and this is expertly done through the mystery of someone who becomes known as the ‘cow killer’.

David Robbins superbly tells his tale in gritty prose. The story laced with bursts of deadly action, tough dialogue and many humorous comments. Why someone is killing cows becomes a gripping thread of intrigue and the final showdown brings both surprises and a fitting end to the book.


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.