By Owen G. Irons
Hale, October 2015
The town of King’s Creek is in uproar. Young Matthew Lydell has been found guilty of murdering the beautiful Janet Teasdale, daughter of a local banker. Lydell, mute throughout his trial, is to be hanged.
But the town marshal has been delaying proceedings, and he has sent for a hangman from the county seat. The roughs in town try to rush the jail three times; they won’t wait to exact revenge.
When the hangman arrives, he does so quietly and unnoticed. The man in black tours the jail and the town, smiling, always smiling. What secret lies behind that smile and what intentions does he have for the Colt that rides on his hip?
Owen G. Irons blends western and mystery superbly in a tale that defies you to put it down before all the story elements are resolved, and, of course, this doesn’t happen till the end.
Why doesn’t Lydell defend himself? Janet Teasdale may be dead but why hasn’t her corpse been found? And what of the bank robbery that seems to be the perfect crime? Puzzles that will soon have you wondering as to just what is going on and whether these events are linked in some-way. As more questions arise during a savage gunfight to take Lydell from the jail and lynch him, you have to wonder if anyone will be left alive to provide the answers.
Owen G. Irons’ latest story moves forwards at a tremendous pace, mixing frustrations, explosive action and humour – the latter mainly provided by two waitresses methods to fend off unwanted attention. And then there’s Storm Hiller, the smiling hangman of the title. Just who is he and what does he really want? These questions are answered fairly early on but transform into the gripping problems of how he can succeed in his aims.
Once more Owen G. Irons (a pseudonym used by Paul Lederer) has written a terrific book that again strengthens my belief that he is one of the best writers producing westerns for the Black Horse Western line today.