Sunday, 10 December 2017

Bone Treasure

By Paul Bedford
The Crowood Press, November 2017

In a sheltered basin, high up in Colorado’s remote Rocky Mountains, two field collectors discover an awesome array of dinosaur bones. Knowing that two competing and irreconcilably hostile palaeontologists will pay big money for knowledge of such a find, the men realise that they have struck bone treasure. Unfortunately for all concerned, a supposedly extinct race of Anasazi Indians regard these relics as sacred and are prepared to slaughter anyone who tries to remove them.

Only one of the men makes it back to Denver, his hair turned prematurely white by his horrifying experiences, but what he brings with him touches off an unstoppable chain of events.

Joe eagle, a frontiersman desperately in need of money, agrees to lead a large party into the Rockies to plunder the fossil beds, but word of the find has got around and their ruthless competitors are never far away. And, somewhere up ahead, the terrifying Anasazi await them all…

From the opening scenes of almost palpable tension Paul Bedford had me hooked. His story is filled with superb characters, from the out-of-their-depth scientists to tough hired guns, the hard-as-nails Joe Eagle and the savage Anasazi I was soon wondering how many would be left alive at the end. The author also includes elements of mystery, such as why Joe Eagle needs money and who is supplying information to the rival bone hunters?

Once the searchers begin to home in on their prize the book becomes one long struggle to stay alive and the author paints some horrific scenes, not least what happens to one man caught by the Anasazi. As well as this ancient race of Indians wanting to protect what they see as their property they also set out to kill all those who venture onto the land as they need to keep their presence a secret as well as the location of the bones. You’d have thought the white men would have the advantage with their guns against the Anasazi’s stone tipped weapons but the ferocious Indians prove to be more than a match for the bone seekers.

As Joe Eagle’s party is whittled down you have to wonder how the survivors will get out with any bones assuming they get to them, as there is the second group of fossil hunters waiting to ambush them on their return journey.

So are the bones worth the cost in human life? Does anyone survive? Not for me to reveal the answers to those questions here but I will suggest you grab a copy of this book and find out for yourselves and at the same time you’ll discover why I keep reading Paul Bedford’s books and am looking forward to his next. 



Also available as an ebook

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Bugles and Blood

LEW EDEN #1
By Ben Bridges and Brent Towns
Bookends, October 2017

Lew Eden was thirteen when he killed his first man. A lot more died at his hand before he finally had his fill of blood and bullets. Then he decided to enlist in the newly-formed Seminole-Negro Scouts, hoping to do what he could to broker peace between white man and red.

But an Indian-hater named Cramer killed Lew’s Sioux woman. After that, Lew wouldn’t rest until he’d put one last man in his grave. But Fate had other ideas. Scouting for General Crook, he was to take part in the Battle of the Rosebud, where the killing started up all over again …

Two well-known authors in the western genre have teamed up to write a series of novels featuring Lew Eden, a scout first met in their Company ‘C’ series, who they’ve now decided to write a spin-off series about.

The Lew Eden books should appeal to all western readers, either those who enjoy purely imaginary tales or those that put fictional characters into true historical events. It’s the latter category that this book falls into.

The book starts with events that see Eden becoming romantically involved with a Sioux woman, Morning Dove after she nurses him to health after he's wounded in a vicious fight saving a well-known Sioux leader from being killed. After six men rape and murder Morning Dove, Eden is consumed with rage and rides out after the killers but he fails in completing his quest for vengeance and one of the killers escapes his justice and Eden finds himself scouting for Crook only to learn that the man he’s hunting is also a soldier but Eden has to keep his anger in check as more important events unfold as the army rides towards the Rosebud.

There has already been plenty of action in this very fast moving tale but the story now becomes one long fight as the soldiers find themselves facing superior numbers of warriors in a battle that they will struggle to come out of alive. 

The story is now told in chapters that are broken by headings that help keep track of which part of the battle is taking place and who is involved. The majority of characters we now read about were real people and the authors also include a lot of historical fact. The skill of the writers comes to the fore as this part of the tale could read like a history lesson but it doesn’t as they blend fact and fiction together seamlessly in a desperate fight for survival.

So does Lew Eden find the last killer of Morning Dove among all the carnage around him? I guess you’ll just have to read the book to find out. What I will add is that the Battle of the Rosebud may come to some kind of conclusion but the war isn’t over yet and the authors leave the storyline open to ensure the reader will be looking out for the second book in the series, Ride to Glory, to find out what happens next, something I for one am eager to find out.

If you have any interest in the Indian Wars and in particular The Battle of the Rosebud then this is a must read. If you just like action packed westerns that feature soldiers and Indian confrontations then grab yourself a copy of this as I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.


Sunday, 3 December 2017

A Dark Dawn in Texas

By Richard Smith
The Crowood Press, September 2017

On her deathbed, Laura Peters shocks her son by belatedly revealing that his uncle did not die alongside Paul’s father in the bloody confrontation at Gettysburg in July 1863. She urges Paul to ride west in a quest to find his relative who holds a guilty secret from those dreadful Civil War days. With mixed emotions he takes up the challenge, eventually arriving in the Texas town of Ongar Ridge, only to find himself accused of murdering the man he had been seeking.

Richard Smith’s third Black Horse Western and the second I’ve read. His first book, Revenge for a Hanging proved to be an excellent read so I had high hopes this would be a match for that in quality and entertainment value and it certainly turned out to be so.

Like in the previous book of Richard Smith’s I read this one also features a court case as Paul Peters is put on trial for killing the man he was seeking – although at the time no-one knows this was Paul’s uncle. This all leads to the reader having to wonder how Paul will ever find out what his uncle’s secret was and it soon becomes apparent that Paul will really struggle to discover why his uncle was killed and by whom.

Richard Smith includes plenty of mystery elements as to the killing of Paul's uncle that kept me turning the pages and there were soon a variety of suspects, people who seemed to want Paul out of the way too, but are these for the same reasons his uncle was killed?

There’s mistrust too. Paul only shares his relationship to the dead man with the marshal and it isn’t long before the lawman’s deputy becomes a suspect throwing doubt on whether Paul should even be trusting Marshal Rowland.

The author tells his story in an easy to read style that builds through a vicious beating, ambush and plenty of gunplay, to a final violent confrontation in increasing pace. Along the way you’ll meet a great set of characters of both sexes and those that fall into the good and bad categories of people. Even though Paul often decides to give up on his seemingly impossible quest to discover why his uncle died events keep him in Ongar Ridge and the truth finally emerges in a shocking revelation that I didn’t see coming.

So, as you can probably guess, I’ve been left looking forward to Richard Smith’s next book and can only add that if you’ve never read any of his work then this one could be the perfect place to introduce yourself to his writing.



Also available as an ebook.