Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Loner

as by J.A. Johnstone
Pinnacle, May 2009

When Conrad Browning’s wife disappears in the untamed frontier, Conrad finds himself assuming the identity of his famous gunslinging father, Frank Morgan, to find her. But his hopes of rescuing Rebel are swiftly shattered – and now he’s burning for vengeance, the old-fashioned way. So he fakes his own death and starts calling himself The Loner, becoming the deadliest gunfighter this side of his own father – ready to settle the score in blood and bullets…

The Loner is another book that takes a character from one of William W. Johnstone’s long running series (in this case The Last Gunfighter) and launches them in their own series – to date there are three Loner books. This is the first book that has dropped William Johnstone’s name and just carries the J.A. Johnstone name as author.

Like many series before it, this first book uses the classic theme of revenge to set Browning off on the killing trail. The story is extremely well written, its plot fast moving and full of action. In fact I found it a very difficult book to put down.

The above blurb is taken from the book and I did have to wonder where the part came from that says “calling himself The Loner” as this never happens, Browning calls himself Kid Morgan, often referred to as just The Kid. Maybe the Loner tag will be developed in further books?

Overall this is a very good read that should satisfy most western readers, and those who are fans of Johnstone’s series will have fun checking out which of his other characters get a name-check. The story leaves a thread dangling which will ensure readers will be eager to read the next in the series.

To me, the only real problem this book and those that follow it have is getting hold of them. The books are only sold in Walmart, which is fine for those who live in America, (the books don’t appear on Walmart’s website) and can get to one of their stores. The other alternative is to buy them through the Johnstone website but do check their postage charges, as having the books sent to the UK completely priced them out of what I was willing to pay. In the end a friend in America picked up all three books and mailed them to me in a single package, the cost of which (by air) was less than the Johnstone site wants to charge for one book! Due to this I do have to wonder how successful this series will be?


Chap O'Keefe said...

Grrr! The kind of problems you mention in your concluding paragraph confirm a belief that the conventional book business is close to dysfunctional. The Book Depository is one of the few retailers who follow internationally customer-friendly policies. But alas, as I have found with the new BHE Books paperbacks, it is seemingly impossible to get them to list some titles. They hold no stocks of books themselves and will sell only what they know they can get immediately from the UK wholesalers.

G. Wilson said...

Having ordered from the Johnstone website before (I am in Australia), I have found their service to be unsurpassed in their willingness to work with overseas customers. In fact, I was refunded part of my shipping charge as they explained that the charge is done by weight but they often find they are able to get it shipped for less than their shipping service allows in the shipping estimate. Maybe if you had contacted them directly they would have worked with you on getting a better deal as well!

It's only Jo and her daughter running the site from what they told me, so they try to make sure the little guys like us don't get run over in the process. They sent me a Loner out of their personal collection as it's not available for purchase anywhere but Wal Mart and they've had to buy them from there themselves. I was happy to get it without a bunch of exchange rate fees and the like charged by other big business retailers. I'd happily do business with them again.

Chap O'Keefe said...

Jo and her daughter sound like kind people, but you do wonder why it should have to come to goodwill arrangements like this. And the notion that they should have to go to a Walmart themselves to get stock ... well!

What has happened to the book trade that should be taking care of this end of things?

Steve M said...

Just to answer a comment by G. Wilson: I did email them directly and asked about shipping costs and was quoted the price on the site, there was no mention of refunds if the price was lower.

James said...

Hey there. Glad to read your review.

I wouldn't mind sending you future books. It's a pain that Walmart is the only place that sells them, but at least Walmart sells them CHEAP. They sell all their books below cover price.

I've checked around though and haven't seen any announcements of Loner books beyond the first three. Do you know if there are plans to continue the series?

Steve M said...

James, I've not been able to find out if there will be anymore books in this series.

Steve M said...

James, I'v just seen these books listed:

The Loner: The Big Gundown - Feb. 2010
The Loner: Rattlesnake Valley - April 2010
The Loner: Seven Ways to Die - June 2010
The Loner: The Bounty Killers - Oct. 2010

Alexander Villagran said...

Steve M,
I have been getting into The Last Gunfighter series, and I am wondering at what time is The Loner series supposed to be based. Is this supposed to happen after book 23 of The Last Gunfighter?

Steve M said...

As far as I can tell both series run alongside each other. The first Loner book would comes after Last Gunfighter 13 Savage Country though as both father and son are in this.

I've only read the first Last Gunfighter book and have read the first few Loner books. In those Loner books there has been mention of storylines in the Gunfighter books but not enough to spoil them for me when I get round to reading them.

I believe father and son team up again but haven't got that far.

Alexander Villagran said...

It appears that Book 13 of the Last Gunfighter is when the story arc starts, but it really is up to Book 20 of the Last Gunfighter in which Book 1 of the Loner takes place. There are references to Book 19 of the Last Gunfighter in the beginning of The Loner Book 1, and at the end of Book 20 of The Last Gunfighter events that happened in the beginning of The Loner book 1 are mentioned. There would be some minor spoilers given if the Loner was read before reading Book 20 of The Last Gunfighter.