Saturday, 31 December 2016

Westerns read during 2016

This year other interests have filled much of the time I’ve previously had for both reading and writing reviews which is something I hope to balance more evenly in 2017. I also hope to post my thoughts on those books I’ve read this year and haven’t managed to review yet. Clicking on a number will take you to the review.


1. The Kerrigans: A Texas Dynasty by William W. Johnstone with J.A. Johnstone
2. Outlaw Town a Ralph Compton novel by David Robbins
3. The Spanish Bit Saga #23: Child of the Dead by Don Coldsmith


4. The Corrigan Brothers #1: Ride Away by Cotton Smith
5. Bodie #7: Desert Run by Neil Hunter
6. Broken Lance by Frank Gruber

MARCH READS – 2 books

7. The Derby Man #7: North Chase by Gary McCarthy
8. The Times of Wichita by Bruce H. Thorstad

APRIL READS – 4 books

9. Shawn O’Brien #3: Better off Dead by William W. Johnstone with J.A. Johnstone
10. The Gunsmoke Serenade by Thomas McNulty
11. Fury at Bent Fork by B.S. Dunn
12. Wanted by the Western Writers Group

MAY READS – 4 books

13. Tell Slash B Hell’s A’Comin’ by Elliot Long
14. The Landon Saga #8: Warpath by Tell Cotten 
15. Terror in Tombstone by Paul Bedford
16. Stories Along…The Hungry Trail by Christine Matthews

JUNE READS – 2 books

17. The Forgiveness Trail by Brent Larssen 
18. Emmett Strong #2: Strong Suspicions by GP Hutchinson

JULY READS – 2 books

19. Blaze #12: Bloody Wyoming by John Hegenberger
20. The Mexican by Lee Clinton

AUGUST READS – 3 books

21. Quarter to Midnight by Ned Oaks
22. Hard Ride to Glory by Harry Jay Thorn
23. The Bloody Trail to Redemption by Paxton Johns


24. Lakota Justice by Will Durey
25. The Legend of Caleb York by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
26. The Danville Stagecoach Robbery by Frank Chandler
27. Blast to Oblivion by Chap O’Keefe


28. 100 Golden Eagles for Iron Eyes by Rory Black
29. The Landon Saga #9: Fastest Gun Around by Tell Cotton
30. Guns across the Rio Grande by Jack Tregarth


31. Brother’s Keeper a Ralph Compton novel by David Robbins
32. The Boot Hill Breed by Ned Oaks
33. The Badman’s Daughter by Terry James


34. Bitter is the Dust by Scott A. Gese
35. Brolin by B.S. Dunn
36. Wilderness #69: The Avenger by David Robbins

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Guns Across the Rio Grande

By Jack Tregarth
The Crowood Press, September 2016

When Captain Barnabas Quinnell, late of the defeated Confederate army, decides to smuggle rifles into Mexico, it seems like a simple, straightforward and profitable enterprise. He hasn’t counted, though, on the Mexican officer who had been charged with putting an end to such gun-running. When Colonel Lopez and Captain Quinnell come face to face, only one of them with emerge alive from the bloody confrontation.

Although this is the first book published under the author name of Jack Tregarth I've read, it is not the first I’ve read by the man behind this pseudonym; Simon Webb. Webb writes under a variety of pen-names and I’ve read only a handful of his output but so far have enjoyed them all, and that includes this one.

The story switches regularly between Lopez and Quinnell, both well drawn characters as are some of the men serving under both. At no time are you ever sure of whom will be victorious when they meet as destiny brings them to a river crossing for a prolonged and well written final battle that takes place over the last thirty pages of the book.

Like other stories I’ve read by this writer the tale moves forward at a very swift pace. There’s a couple of surprises as the main characters attempt to fulfil their dreams and neither are above using a little deception to achieve their goals even when they know it could lead to their deaths without warning or mercy.

Guns Across the Rio Grande left me feeling thoroughly entertained and looking forward to reading more by this author.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Fastest Gun Around

By Tell Cotten
Solstice Publishing, October 2016

Rondo Landon is on his way to Midway, Texas, when misfortune strikes. Meanwhile, Lee Mattingly and Brian Clark have their own problems as they meet their new business partner.

It isn’t until their paths cross that they realize their troubles are connected, and they join forces. Along the way, they encounter new enemies, revenge, relationships, and an odd horse.

With every release, Tell Cotten’s army of fans increases, all of us eager for each new book and once that is read we immediately anticipate the next in this exciting series. Yes, the Landon Saga is a series, one that carries some storylines over into the next book, that often refers to what has gone before, meaning it is probably best if you read them in order. Having said that Tell Cotten does include a little background to his characters before the story begins thus meaning you can read, and enjoy this book without having read the rest.

This story follows the continuing fortunes and misfortunes of Rondo Landon and Lee Mattingly, with most of the tale told in the first person through Rondo. When switching to scenes that don’t involve Rondo, Cotton tells his story in the third person. The blend from first to third and back again is so smoothly done you don’t notice it’s happened.

Filled with plenty of action, how-they-going-get-out-of-that situations, twists and turns, some comical laugh-out-loud moments in both dialogue and the antics revolving around the odd horse (which the author explains in a note at the end) and you have everything anyone could ask for in a western.

Once again Tell Cotten proves to me that I am right in saying he is one of the best Western writers working today and if you haven’t read him yet then I’ve got to ask why not as I’m sure all fans of this genre will enjoy his stories and then be joining me, and countless others, looking forward to the next in the series, Midway.

Available as an ebook too.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Blast to Oblivion

By Chap O’Keefe
Rough Edges Press, September 2016

In Denver, a shotgun blast brutally ends a man’s life and sets in motion a deadly chain of events that threatens Joshua Dillard, drifting detective and former Pinkerton agent. Hired by a beautiful woman to untangle the mystery of her brother’s murder and bring the killer to justice, Joshua’s investigation takes him to the raw and dangerous mining town of Silverville, where he finds a web of deception, greed, lust, and violence. Aided only by an eccentric hermit, Joshua will need all his cunning and gun-skill to avoid being blasted to oblivion himself!

Originally published by Robert Hale as part of its Black Horse Western line in 2009, Blast to Oblivion is the seventh (of nine) books following the adventures of Joshua Dillard. Included in this revised edition for Rough Edges Press, Chap O’Keefe has added an afterword titled From Deerstalker to Stetson that explains how this story was inspired by the classic Sherlock Holmes novel The Valley of Fear.

Having read many other Chap O’Keefe books I knew I would be in for an entertaining read with this one, and as it turns out it is one of the authors’ best. You don’t need to have read any of the other Dillard books as it is a self-contained novel that is full of twists and turns, great characters of both sexes, and moves forward at a terrific pace.

The mystery elements will keep you guessing as Dillard has to sort deception from the truth before a final dramatic shoot-out in a location that could become a death-trap for all involved.

If you missed this book the first time it was published then now is your chance to rectify that by grabbing a copy immediately as I’m sure all who enjoy well-told westerns stories will find much to appreciate in Blast to Oblivion and will then be on the lookout for the other Joshua Dillard tales.

Availabe as an ebook too.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

100 Golden Eagles for Iron Eyes

By Rory Black
The Crowood Press, September 2016

Bounty hunter Iron Eyes is heading south to Mexico in search of outlaws Bodine and Walters, but is himself being hunted down by his erstwhile sweetheart Squirrel Sally. Then Iron Eyes learns that Sally has been kidnapped by landowner Don Jose Fernandez, and rushes to her aid. But Sally, Iron Eyes and the outlaws are all just pawns in a much larger game, with an enemy more deadly than they can imagine, and Iron Eyes has to use all his courage and skill to survive.

The 26th book in the Iron Eyes series offers everything long time readers of these books would hope for, a fast pace, plenty of violent action, and one or two twists to the plot. 

As we have discovered in the past, we once again find out what the only thing is that Iron Eyes fears, yeap women, particularly Squirrel Sally and her devotion to him and her desire to be his woman. No matter how much he tries to lose her she somehow manages to trail him wherever he goes, which scares the hell out of him.

We also find out something else about Iron Eyes, that perhaps he does have a heart, some kinda feelings, that see him not just gunning down Don Jose Fernandez for kidnapping Sally when they first meet but see a plea reach into his blackened soul – and that is all I can reveal about this part of the story so as not to spoil it for those intending to read it.

There is also a neat twist right at the end that could see a turnaround at the beginning of the next book, and again I can’t say what that is here.

What I can say is that for fans of Iron Eyes then make sure you read this book, and for those who have ever never read about this deadly bounty hunter then this is as good a place as any to start and I’m sure it will have you looking for the previous novels. Me? I’m already looking forward to the next book in the series. 

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The Danville Stagecoach Robbery

By Frank Chandler
The Crowood Press, September 2016

Jason Colebrook hasn’t travelled to Nebraska looking for adventure – he wants revenge. Travelling on the Danville stagecoach as a young lad, he survived the robbery but was badly wounded. Twenty years later, determined to uncover the truth, he gets a lead to a frontier town where he finds the townspeople are being cheated by a man running for election. Jason soon falls foul of a local gang, but also falls for a beautiful redhead only to discover she is entangled in a network of corruption, evictions and underhand dealings. Although help arrives unexpectedly from the local hotel owner’s daughter, Jason has to use all his cunning, determination and gun skills to unmask his quarry and see justice is done.

As far as I can tell this is the first Black Horse Western to front the author name Frank Chandler and the book he presents the reader with is filled with twists and turns, surprises and action.

The book opens with a couple of encounters for Colebrook that paint a clear picture of the kind of man he is, someone who will step in when help is needed without a second thought to his well-being. One of these face-offs is referred to a few times during the story with humour.

The author also keeps the tale of what actually happened on the Danville stagecoach and the reason the young Colebrook was shot a secret until near the end of the book. The reason behind this being just one of the hooks that kept me eagerly turning the pages. Another was the mystery of just who would turn out to be the men Colebrook was hunting.

The political corruption forms another storyline that may be tied in with Colebrook’s mission for vengeance or not – you’ll have to read the book to find that out for yourself. And then there’s the added complication of the two women, both very strong characters who know what they want and will go out and get it rather than wait for it to come to them.

Overall I found this to be a very entertaining read that easily held my interest throughout with its fast-moving pace and twisting plotline. 

Monday, 19 September 2016

The Legend of Caleb York

By Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
Pinnacle, May 2016

Trinidad, New Mexico, is an oasis of civilization in an untamed desert ruled by outlaws, bank robbers and horse thieves. Sheriff Harry Gauge rules his town with an iron fist, a fast gun, and an unbridled thirst for power.

George Cullen sweated blood to carve a ranch from the wilderness. He’d rather take a bullet to the gut than give in to the greedy sheriff’s land grab. But a cattle empire isn’t all Gauge wants – he also has his eye on Cullen’s beautiful daughter Willa.

Cullen gets word out that he’s hiring the fastest gunslinger money can buy to take on the sheriff. When a stranger rides in, townsfolk wonder if this is the rancher’s hired gun. Wherever he came from, wherever he’s going, two things are clear – the stranger won’t be pushed…and his aim is deadly.

Originally published in 2015 as a hardcover this story is based on a screenplay, The Saga of Caleb York, written by Mickey Spillane for his friend John Wayne around 1959. It never made it to film due to Wayne’s production company struggling due to the losses his film The Alamo made. You can read much more about this, and how Max Allan Collins came to turn the screenplay into a novel at the beginning of the book. Collins is perhaps best known for his graphic novel Road to Perdition which inspired the Oscar winning film starring Paul Newman and Tom Hanks, 

Collins has written a book that is extremely readable. Due to when the screenplay was written you can easily imagine it as a film from the 1960’s or perhaps the 1970’s. Having said that Collins has adapted it so it doesn’t appear dated. Occasionally it has the feel of one of those hard-hitting detective films full of tough men and equally as hard women that Spillane wrote about in his Mike Hammer novels. All this, and some fairly graphic violence, mix perfectly to result in a top class western read that should please all fans of the genre.

There’s a couple of neat twists, and some great mystery surrounding the Stranger’s identity, surely he is Banion, the man who killed Caleb York? Sheriff Gauge, a lightning fast gun himself doesn’t care who the Stranger is, just knows he’s a man to be got rid of in any way possible. The Stranger also has two women to deal with but can the fact that he is a killer be overcome by one of them so her true feeling can emerge?

For the seasoned western reader the plot falls under the banner of traditional but there’s nothing wrong with that, especially as I’ve already said the book is so well written by Max Allan Collins that it is a pleasure to read. So much so that I am looking forward to reading the sequel, The Big Showdown, that is already available as a hardcover and is due out in paperback next March.