By Matt Chisholm
Piccadilly Publishing, January 2018
Originally published in 1978 by Hamlyn Paperbacks
Blade – Tough, tender and temperamental. Slow to anger, fast with a gun and no slouch with women. A man tempered by the West, dangerous living and a perpetual gamble with death.
The Women – The Indian girl: lovely waif of a grisly massacre. The Mexican girl: mettlesome as a thoroughbred filly and heiress to half New Mexico. Both of them more desirable than the women of men’s dreams.
The Killers – Drawn to gold like steel to a magnet, blind to mercy, indifferent to death, they plundered the living and the dead. The scourge of the West.
Matt Chisholm is an alias for English author Peter Watts, who also wrote westerns under a couple of other pen-names. Matt Chisholm is the name he is best known by though and he wrote both series and stand-alone titles under this pseudonym. He is also one of the authors I actively sought out each new release back in the day. For me, it is great to see Piccadilly Publishing bringing the superb Blade series back into the limelight.
At the beginning of the story we find Joe Blade shoeless, horseless and without weapons, all having been stolen from him. Blade is hunting down those responsible for his current predicament and it’s whilst doing this he stumbles onto the site of a massacre of Indians and discovers the only survivor and the action never lets up from there.
Chisholm introduces a whole load of terrific characters such as Crazy Annie, someone I don’t think any of us will forget quickly. Then there’s the half-breed, George McMasters, and a great selection of outlaws. The story switches between the various groups before they all come together for a prolonged final showdown that offers a number of twists and surprises along with a variety of deadly situations that will have you wondering how anyone can possibly escape with their lives, never-mind the gold.
If you’ve never read any of Matt Chisholm’s books, then this is a great place to introduce yourself to his work. His pacing is excellent, his characters are tough, his plots gripping, his action vivid without being too graphic and he doesn’t include explicit sex scenes and bad language is used sparingly.
I will also add that to get the best enjoyment from the Blade series you should try to read them in order as a number of characters appear in more than one book.
Top entertainment from yesteryear that more than matches anything being written today.