Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Peacemaker #5

as by William S. Brady
Fontana, 1982

The stageline was a lifeline. It linked Garrison with the other Texas border towns. It brought new blood and new money. And raiders! Their trade was death, paid in blood and bullets.

McLain was the lawman. It was his duty to see the stage got through…no matter who stood in the way.

The Peacemaker books came from the group of British western authors know today collectively as The Piccadilly Cowboys. This series lasted for nine books with six of them being written by Angus Wells and the other three by John Harvey. These two authors also wrote another series together as by William S. Brady: Hawk.

In fact the two series are linked more than just by the author pseudonym. The Hawk series came first and there’s often mention of John T. McLain as being the man who helped Jared Hawk learn to handle weapons, in fact he gave Hawk the swan-down Meteor shotgun he wears in a special belt holster. There were always rumours of the two starring in a book together, sadly this never happened as the English publishers ceased publishing westerns before it could happen.

The Peacemaker series differed from the majority of the Piccadilly Cowboy’s western series in that it didn’t feature a drifting hero. After the end of the Civil War, McLain rides into the small town of Garrison and stays. The books follow the growth of this town and also feature a cast of regular characters. This allowed the authors to spend time developing these people as well as the town. Each book begins with prologue filling new readers on the main details of what had happened in the previous books.

As the blurb indicates this story revolves around attempts to link Garrison with other towns by stage. Of course it’s not just Comanche that cause problems, there’s bandits too, being helped by a greedy solider who sees the payroll the stage is carrying as an easy way to riches.

This entry in the series comes from Angus Wells so the violence is extremely detailed and gory. Having said that there is not as much as in some of Wells’ books. Much of this story tells what the various characters are doing, how they are planning to steal the payroll and double-cross each other. All this leads to an exciting final bloody confrontation between all sides.

One thing that always made me smile about this series is that McLain rode with Bloody Bill Anderson, Butcher Harvey and Josey Wales throughout much of the Civil War, and that it was Wales that suggests McLain heads for Texas at the end of the war.

Blood Run reads like a fast moving traditional western except it contains a bit more blood and guts than those who’ve never read a western from this group of writers might expect. In my mind the Peacemaker series is definitely worth exploring…if you can find them.

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