Thursday, 18 May 2017

Way of the Lawless

By P. McCormac
The Crowood Press, April 2017

Butch Shilton and Joe Peters are on the run and think to hide out in a quiet township. The sheriff comes across them on a wanted poster and once again they have to hightail it. Trouble seems to follow the pals and they end up in the confines of the brutal Los Pecos penitentiary. Breaking out they flee over the border into Mexico only to fall foul of the notorious bandit Barca.

They recruit a bunch of escaped convicts to fight Barca only to find they have made a pact with one pack of devils to fight another pack of devils. On top of that the prison guards are out scouring the countryside for the escapees. With enemies closing in on all sides there is nowhere to run. Could this be the end of the trail for Butch and Joe?

Since The Crowood Press took over the publication of Black Horse Westerns from Hale I’ve noticed that many of the books now list not only the previous output of the author but also list the books they've written under different pseudonyms and this is one of those. P. McCormac is the author’s real name and I also discovered he’s written under a few different names too. Even more surprising is that I have never read any of his books whatever the name on the cover.

Butch Shilton and Joe Peters are a very likeable couple of lead characters that often squabble with each other. This, along with their descriptions and fighting with their fists as much as their guns, brought to mind that great Spaghetti western duo Trinity and Bambino and that for me was a very welcome. As the story progressed and Shilton and Peters rounded up small group of convicts to take on Barca to help a small Mexican village as much as for their own revenge I started to think this book was going to be another take on The Magnificent Seven, but I needn’t have worried as no sooner did I have this thought than McCormac added a twist and the tale headed off in its own direction.

The story is filled with action, excellent dialogue and terrific descriptions – particularly of fist fights, so I’ll finish by saying this has to be a book that I believe most fans of westerns should enjoy. 

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