Friday, 27 November 2009

Rustler's Range

as by Billy Hall
A Black Horse Western from Hale, November 2009

Tad Strong had made a bold attempt to capture the outlaw king in his own domain. Everything had gone dreadfully wrong. Now he was pinned down, surrounded, and hopelessly outnumbered.

Tad retreated to the wall, propping himself against it. He was suddenly overwhelmed with the constant barrage of bullets, splintering wood, shattering objects, pounding a relentless cacophony of his certain and impending doom. He realized with a rush the enormous stupidity of thinking he could slip into Bligh’s stronghold, take him out, and escape.

At least he would die thinking of Becky, and the feel of her lips against his. There was no further sense in even trying to prolong the inevitable. There were too many. Bligh was dead, but in everything else he had failed. He sighed in resignation, leaned his head back against the wall, and waited for the bullet that would end it.

The previous BHW I reviewed didn’t have much action and this one is almost the exact opposite. It is jam-packed with blazing gunfights, virtually every chapter seeing guns fired in anger.

The book seems to set itself up as a traditional range war story, but this soon becomes the backdrop – the reason – that Billy Hall uses to justify all the gunfights Tad Strong finds himself in. There’s a touch of love interest with Tad’s attraction to Becky, something she is eager to develop herself. There’s a great twist when it’s discovered that rustlers are branding new born calves with a TS brand registered to Strong; so is he on the straight and narrow?

Billy Hall knows how to write a fast paced story that will hold a readers attention. As well as all the action he inserts many humorous lines of dialogue, usually as banter between Strong and the various cowboys he finds himself working with. Everything is resolved in a truly awesome final gunfight that would make for a great film sequence.

There are a number of other books by Billy Hall in my collection; in fact they’ve been there for years, which I’ve never got around to reading. On the strength of this book I think it’s time to dig them out.

Rustler’s Range is officially released on November 30th, but is available now from all the usual Internet booksellers.

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