By Tony Masero
Solstice Westerns, April 2011
Mexico, 1868. Two men. One white, one colored. Proficient in shooting with the long arm, the greatest long-range weapon of the age. The .50 caliber Sharps rifle.
Hounded by a merciless gang of assassins, they press on into the desert redoubt of the self-styled and ruthless General Wyatt whose crazy ambition is nothing less than reinstating the Confederacy. Their only assistance comes from the beautiful and mysterious Christine Lenoir. She risks all as a spy in the heart of the renegade fortress, driven by her hatred for the General.
Nick and Thaddeus need all their skills and fighting technique to survive against Apaches, murderers and a reinstated army of rebel forces.
To my knowledge this is the first published western by Tony Masero. His name will be instantly recognizable to many western fiction fans though, particularly those in the UK. Why? Because he is best known as an artist, the man who painted the covers for the highly regarded George G. Gilman series: Edge, Adam Steele, and The Undertaker. His artwork also appears on many other books and has recently begun fronting Black Horse Westerns.
So what is Tony like as an author? Very good is the quick answer.
The Riflemen is a fast moving tale that’s packed with action as the two ex-sharpshooters take on vast odds. Their characters have been carefully thought out and you’ll soon be urging them on to complete their mission. They aren’t the only memorable characters though; Black Band Doolin, Cave Wyatt, Billy Ray Laforge, and Christine Lenoir, will stick in the mind too, all for very different reasons, the latter of these adding intrigue to the story, as to why she wants revenge against Wyatt.
Tony Masero sets scenes well with brief but detailed enough descriptions that paint vivid imagery of the locations his story is played out in. Dialogue is handled confidently, and often has touches of humour within it. The story builds well to its action-packed final chapters – Billy Ray’s downfall providing a great laugh.
After finishing the Riflemen I’ve found myself hoping it isn’t too long before another book appears from Tony Masero.