Friday, 28 May 2010

Big Trouble at Flat Rock

by Elliot Long
A Black Horse Western from Hale, May 2010

It was with a near-broken heart and a deep hatred that Jim McKendry looked down at his father lying dead in his coffin. He could barely look at the lifeless face and the silk wrapping that covered the ghastly wound across his father’s throat.

Jim swore that someone would pay for his father’s death and no matter what it took the killer would be brought to justice – alive or dead.

With over thirty Black Horse Westerns to his name, Elliot Long has become a favourite with many readers, so it may come as a surprise when I tell you, that even though a number of his books can be found in my collection, this is the first story of his I’ve read.

Elliot Long knows how to pace a story, how to create memorable characters, and how to spring surprises on the reader. All his story threads race towards a brutal and well-written final showdown that ties everything up neatly.

The story shows how a man can be driven by the lust for revenge, so much so everything else in his life is pushed aside, including his woman and his family. For me, though, Jim McKendry isn’t the most fascinating character in this story, that honour falls to the hired assassin, van Otis, a man with ties to the Tongs.

At first I was disappointed Elliot Long let on who had hired van Otis but this lead to a neat twist in having this person killed off soon after, rubbed out by van Otis, and this time the identity of the hirer is kept a secret. The author gives a few hints as to who this person is, but too many characters fit with these clues, thus ensuring the reader continues to keep turning the pages.

Looks like it won’t be long before I’m hunting through my collection for more of Elliot Long’s books.

Big Trouble at Flat Rock is available to order now from all the usual Internet sources even though it has an official release date of May 31st.


Ron Scheer said...

I'm always curious about the historical and geographical authenticity of a western. How well does the author deal with these aspects of his story, or does it all take place in a mythical time and place called the "Old West"?

ChuckTyrell said...

Ron, it depends on the author. Personally, I put quite a bit of effort making sure my books are authentic in terms of geography, site, weapons, transportation, medical science, location and seriousness of wounds, how long it takes to recover from wounds, clothing, attitudes, and when I use an actual town, or base a fictional town on a real one, I either know the town personally or have researched it through historical societies. So, if you read a Chuck Tyrell western, believe it.

Ron Scheer said...

Thanks for the reply. My original question was about "Big Trouble at Flat Rock" and other titles from this series. Any other authors besides yourself you'd like to recommend for authenticity, as well as good storytelling? I have not read a lot of Elmer Kelton, but I liked what I've read.

Chap O'Keefe said...

Ron, Some authors take the Chuck Tyrell line, others the mythical path. Yet others switch about from book to book according to the story they want to tell. I believe the present trend is for most authors to do some historical and geographical research.

The Elliot Long books I've read have backgrounds that are largely mythical. The Hale western line has run "on a knife's edge" for years, we're told, and the publishers appear happy with the mythical approach as they don't have the time or staff to do extensive checking of historical facts. A good story is the paramount consideration.

Looking over my own backlist, the more recent titles have involved more research than earlier ones, because I believe this is what much of today's audience expects. Some of the articles at Black Horse Extra ( might help illustrate this; for example, the article about the novel Peace at Any Price on the December 2007 page, or the piece by the late Walt Masterson (Chris Kenworthy) on the March 2008 page.

Happy reading!


Steve M said...

Hi Ron,

I think Chuck and Keith should have answered your question, so I'll just add that I do know many authors do research extensively, including visiting, the locations they set their stories in.