Tuesday, 28 March 2023


British Edition Vol 3, No. 4

The four tales to be found in this British edition of Western Adventure were all originally published in the American pulp Western Story, Vol. 196, No. 5, January 1942. The cover art was done by H.W. Scott but whether he redid it or someone else copied it for the British edition I don’t know. If you study both covers, you’ll see many subtle changes. You can view the American cover at the end of this post.

The first yarn, and featured novelette is Wolf of the Toltecs by Philip Ketchum. This is the much-used landgrab story, with one man, Ben Broadman seeking vengeance on those who killed his friends. It’s a tough tale that sees Broadman become a wanted man and he soon seems to care for nothing other than getting his revenge, no matter who gets hurt along the way. It also seems the story can only end with Broadman’s death. I enjoyed reading this tale, although the ending was a bit of a let down for my tastes – I’d have preferred a much harder hitting conclusion. I will, however, be seeking out another of Ketchum’s tales to try soon.

H.A. DeRosso was the author of short story Death Stacks the Deck. This has a wonderfully dark atmosphere, and was the second entry in this pulp that seemed to be heading for a downbeat ending. Ex-gambler Harvey Howell sees the only way to payoff his ranch is to play one last game and loses his home in a crooked game. Howell is then offered a chance to reclaim his ranch by playing another game to cheat the biggest rancher in the area out of his ranch. What doesn’t sit well is the fact that this rancher’s daughter is Howell’s wife. Cheating also goes against all of Howell’s beliefs. With all hope gone Howell plays the game and wins. After this the author includes a small twist that, like in the Ketchum novelette, turned things around in a way that gave the tale a happy ending that didn’t seem to fit the rest of the tone of the story to me. Having said that, the ending won’t stop me reading more of DeRosso’s work.

Rodeo Reckoning by Seth Ranger – which is a pseudonym used by Frank Richardson Pierce – came next. This short story is about a rodeo champion who wants to retire and run a horse ranch, but finds himself back competing to prove he’s still the greatest. That is about the entire plot and it worked out exactly as you’d expect. In fact, I got bored with it half-way through and decided to speed-read it to the end. If it had been longer than ten pages, I’d have probably not finished it.

The last short story was Hep Meets the New Year by Glenn H. Wichman. Wichman wrote 65 tales featuring Hep and this was the first time I’d read one. Hep decides to make some new year resolutions and gets four other people to do so too. The question is will any of them stick to these decisions? This is a comedy western, its light-hearted tone was fine, and it contained a couple of slap-stick situations at the end. Covering twelve pages was enough for me though as it didn’t have enough plot to hold my attention and I’m not sure I’ll be reading the other Hep Gallegher stories I have in my collection any time soon. 

There are also two factual features by Jim West, that I didn’t bother reading.

I’m hoping to try and read pulps more often as there are certainly some gems to be found within them. 

Saturday, 25 March 2023


By Dusty Richards and Matthew P. Mayo
Pinnacle Books, March 2023

Mackworth “Mack” Harrigan’s family legacy burned to the ground in the spring of 1849. The Ohio mill that brought them prosperity was now cinder and ash, and his ruthless father had perished in the flames along with their fortune. If the Harrigan’s have a future, it lies out west in open country where they can build whatever lives they choose. Mack knows his wife, Ell, and their children Kane, Meghan, and Fitch are more than capable of overcoming the challenges of their journey.

The untamed frontier is full of seriously deadly battles. From a rough river voyage to wagon train travel across desert lands plagued by dust storms, the Harrigan’s encounter desperadoes and merciless killers who view them as little more than prey. As Mack and his family adapt to their merciless surroundings, they realize they must enforce their own laws and dispense their own justice…

Sadly, Dusty Richards died in January 2018. He wrote numerous westerns under his own name and pseudonyms. Like has been done with William W. Johnstone, Pinnacle Books have decided to keep his name alive by continuing to put out new work under his name which is written by other authors. Unlike on the Johnstone books, Pinnacle have added the real author’s name to the cover, something that will be greatly appreciated by many readers.

I have read a few westerns written by Matthew P. Mayo and enjoyed them all, so I was pleased to see his name on the front of this book. That was what made me buy it and I’m glad I did as I found it to be an excellent read.

The Harrigan family are easy to relate to. It was fascinating to see how they’d adapt to surviving in the west as they really are fish out of water. They need help and get both good and bad advice. Mack’s stubbornness doesn’t help either which is why they end up joining a small wagon train guided by a drunk. They also set out on their journey at the wrong time of the year and snow is also going to be an obstacle they’ll struggle to overcome.

Matthew P. Mayo writes some terrific scenes packed with tension, deadly situations that you can never be sure how they’ll turn out. Scenes such as Mack trying to rescue his father from the mill fire and a desperate race for survival from the hungry flames of a prairie fire. I don’t want to highlight anything else for fear of spoiling this gripping tale for those who are planning to read this book.

I wasn’t sure how the story would end and Matthew P. Mayo had a couple of surprises waiting in store for the closing scenes which left me both grinning and looking forward to reading the second book, A Need for Violence, which has been announced for an August 2023 release.

Sunday, 19 March 2023


Number 178 of 436 plus 29 Giant Editions
By Tabor Evans
Cover art by Joe Lombardero
Jove Books, October 1993

Longarm has swept his share of hardcases off the face of the earth. But the quest for four missing archaeologists puts him in the way of cold-blooded murder in a pit at the very bottom of the world…

In a bottomless chamber somewhere below New Mexico territory lies a fortune in Spanish gold. Bushwhacked shortly after he jumps off the train, Longarm follows a trail of corpses to a glittering cache – only to find it’s a lot easier to fall into a treasure trap than to make his way out…

This was the first book in the Longarm series to be written by James Reasoner under the pseudonym of Tabor Evans and it was based on an outline given to James by series creator Lou Cameron. James turned this plot into a gripping read full of terrific characters, tense scenes, plenty of action, and some excellent twists and turns – especially as to where the gold is hidden. It was also great to see that James had included Longarm’s regular sayings, such as eating an apple one bite at a time, and his habit of using a matchstick to determine if someone had entered a room without permission. Sadly, these traits slowly disappeared as the series progressed and were only mentioned now and again.

Longarm is an adult western series so it contains explicit sex but these parts can be skipped if this kind of action isn’t to your taste. I suggest doing this as this Longarm story is a superb entry in the series that will keep you on the edge of your seat as Longarm struggles to piece together just what is going on and who is behind the disappearance of the archaeologists.

As this was James Reasoner’s first Longarm book it was also interesting to note that he’d either done his research on the series, or was a reader of the series before being commissioned to write for it, as he includes mention of previous Longarm assignments. For instance, there’s mention of when Longarm found himself involved with other archaeologists. He also portrays Longarm’s relationship with his boss, Billy Vail perfectly.

It's been a while since I read a Longarm book and this one really makes me want to read more, although they will have to be those written by other authors as I’ve now read all those penned by James Reasoner.

Thursday, 9 March 2023


Book 2 of 10
By Steven G. Lawrence
Ace Books, 1961

For Tom Slattery, the Rio Grande country was bad news. His mother had died here and he had now come to bury his father and brother beside her in Boot Hill. After that he was going to clear out.

But on the Mexican side of the river, a revolution was in the air and someone was running guns across the Rio to the rebels. Unexpectedly Slattery became a witness to the smuggling. 

Slattery thought the law would side with him. The questions he answered too late were who was behind the law – and who was holding the carbine that was aimed at his back? 

Tom Slattery first appeared in this Ace double book, it is backed with the first book in the series, Slattery. It’s interesting to note that Ace called the author Steven G. Lawrence and did so on the next two Ace doubles that featured Slattery tales too. Subsequent reprints and new stories saw the authors name become Steven C. Lawrence. Bullet Welcome for Slattery had its title shortened when reprinted and became Bullet Welcome. Steven G/C Lawrence is a pseudonym used by Lawrence Agustus Murphy.

Discovering a wagon in trouble and the following disaster that befalls it is what exposes the rifles it is carrying. A quick exchange of gunfire sees the wagon driver dead and Slattery wounded. Slattery is helped by a woman and her young son; the latter having witnessed the shooting and having seen the crates of guns too. The gunrunners are soon set on killing both Slattery and the young boy.

The rest of the fast-moving plot revolves around a siege of a jailhouse where Slattery and the sheriff are holding one of the gunrunners prisoner. The gang want him back and Slattery dead, then they plan to kill the boy and they won’t stop at anything to achieve all their aims. There’s plenty of tough talking and gunplay that play out in some tense scenes. There’s also a twist as to who’s side one of the characters is on, but that wasn’t hard to see coming before the author revealed it.

Bullet Welcome for Slattery is a traditional western that played out pretty much as I expected it would. The only downside was the number of typos the book contained. Some of these made me go back and reread a paragraph to understand it properly as they mixed speech from different characters making it hard to work out who said what and to whom. Overlooking these spelling and layout mistakes, the book proved to be a quick and entertaining read and I look forward to reading the third one soon.

Tuesday, 28 February 2023


By William W. Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone
Pinnacle Books, February 2023

Captain Peter Joseph Kellerman was once a promising career soldier who’d proven his mettle in battle time and again. Now he’s fighting a battle with a whiskey bottle. He’s also in charge of Fort Benjamin Grierson, located west of hell, deep in Arizona Territory’s Mohawk Valley on the arid edge of the Yuma Desert. The men under his command aren’t fit to wear the uniform. Killers, thieves, and ravagers condemned to death but who’ve chosen to serve, holding down the hated Fort Misery.

Santiago Lozado, the most wanted bandit on both sides of the border, has set his sights on Fort Misery. He wants vengeance against Kellerman for killing his son and has raised an army of brutal Apache and Comancheros to slaughter every man wearing Union blue – only to encounter a wild bunch of desperate men unafraid of shedding blood and fighting to the death . . . 

Johnstone brings together a captivating bunch of soldiers to face a much larger force of bandits and Apache in a story full of seemingly hopeless situations and disillusioned officers and troopers. Most of these characters imbibe in alcohol to see them through each and every day. When a clerical error sends a fresh-faced officer straight from West Point to the fort, he is aghast at the situation he finds himself in. 

The author switches regularly between his cast of characters, be they soldiers or their enemy. This allows the readers to follow what each side is doing, how they are planning to attack or defend Fort Grierson and this also helps build reader anticipation for the assault on the fort. The bandits, scalpers and Apache all seem set on double-crossing each other too. Other people get involved in this battle as well; a couple of prisoners who’ve escaped from the prison wagon taking them to Yuma, and a marshal looking to track them down. 

Action scenes are described superbly and they are often quite brutal in their depiction. The harsh landscape surrounding Fort Grierson is beautifully portrayed as are feelings of despair, nerve jangling tension, and hatred. Amongst all this the author injects many moments of humour, mostly found in conversation, adding some welcome relief to the deadly situations the soldiers find themselves in. 

It would be unrealistic to expect all your favourite characters to come out of this unscathed. I also liked how the author wasn’t averse to killing off some of them too, making it impossible to predict who would be left alive by the end. 

The last couple of chapters nicely set up what I assume will be the plot for the second book in the series and I’m looking forward to reading that with much anticipation. 

Saturday, 25 February 2023


By Peter Brandvold
Wolfpack Publishing, May 2022

When constable Jeremiah Claggett is murdered by Frank Lord, the kill-crazy leader of a dozen wild outlaws, Bloody Joe has to come to grips with the fact that he’s inadvertently to blame. Mannion had turned Frank’s brother, Billy, over to Claggett for safekeeping, setting off the chain of events that end his friend’s life. Mannion is the kill-crazy one now. Not realizing he’s being shadowed by forces unknown, Mannion sets out on his vengeance quest.

In typical Bloody Joe style, he storms Lord’s gang single-handedly, which nearly proves his undoing – until he’s set upon by a mystery ‘Man of the Lord’ and given…something. Whether that something is good or bad Mannion has difficulty discerning.

Peter Brandvold has commented that Bloody Joe Mannion is one of his favourite characters and I’m very much in agreement with that statement. I really like how Mannion allows his anger to determine his actions, how he pushes aside everything else in his life as he relentlessly hunts down his prey. Mannion will suffer both mentally and physically before the conclusion of this tale.

Bloody Joe isn’t the only great character in this series, but the regulars that have had large parts to play in previous books only have small roles this time around. Mannion’s wife, Jane, has some decisions to make when a man she hasn’t seen for many years arrives in town which leads to a powerful scene at the end of the story.

The vast majority of the book follows Mannion’s attempts wipe out the Lord gang. During this Bloody Joe will have to struggle with unsettling changes within his person. Why did he decide to bring in Billy Lord alive instead of just killing him? This seems to be a new side of him that Mannion is not sure he likes, especially as it leads to the death of his friend, Jeremiah Claggett. Mannion isn’t the only one who has to deal with self-blame, there’s Claggett’s daughter too, who also sets out to kill Frank Lord.

The action scenes are hard-hitting, brutal at times, as Mannion deals out justice. There are elements of mystery too, such as who is the lone rider shadowing Bloody Joe and why is he doing so? The Man of the Lord makes for a fascinating character too, can he really summon powers unexplained to help him ’feed the beast’ or is there a more rational explanation? All this combines to make a gripping read that left me eager to read the fourth book in the series as soon as possible. 

Sunday, 19 February 2023


By John Benteen
Leisure Books, 1973

The Appaloosa horses bred by Chief Joseph’s Nez Perce Indians were the finest anywhere. That’s why the Army wanted to get its hands on the herd—so it could breed up top-quality remounts and ride the Indians down even easier. To do it, they hired a sadistic horse-trader named Luke Drury.

There was just one problem. Jim Sundance had no intention of letting Drury or the Army get their hands on the Appaloosas. Instead, he planned to sell them to an English aristocrat and have them taken out of the country.

But Drury played rough … up to and including cold-blooded murder. So now it became a race against time. Hunted every step of the way, Sundance, and the beautiful Lady Bucknell, had to get the horses to the relative safety of Mormon country, and then get them shipped out to England. But they were going to have a fight on their hands … one that could only end in wholesale slaughter …

Most of the early Sundance books are based on real historical events. This one has some of that in it, but I believe the main storyline about hidden stallions is fictional. The author does include real people, such as Calamity Jane, and gives the reader loads of background about the Nez Perce and their treatment by the white man, the U.S. Army in particular. 

There’s also the question of where this book fits into the series. As you’ll see my copy (pictured above) doesn’t carry a number and I’ve seen it recorded as the seventh book in numerous lists. However, I have seen the exact same cover with a number six printed on it. Figuring its place in the series becomes even more complicated when you read the book as there is a lot of reference to The Battle of the Little Bighorn and Sundance’s involvement in Custer’s death. In fact, the book reveals just what did happen between the two men. None of this has yet turned up in a Sundance book if read in listed order, as the book usually said to be number nine, Taps at Little Big Horn, covers Custer’s last stand. To confuse things even more, my copy of Taps at Little Big Horn has a large number seven printed on it. Many of the Sundance books have been put out by Piccadilly Publishing as ebooks, and they’ve altered the originally order so the books run chronologically by storyline, thus their Taps at Little Big Horn is number five and The Wild Stallions is number seven. I suggest you use Piccadilly Publishing’s order to get the best enjoyment out of the early entries in the series.

John Benteen is a pseudonym for Ben Haas, although later other authors would take over the series. Haas mixes historical fact seamlessly with fiction in an exciting storyline that sees Sundance and Lady Bucknell struggle to get the horses to safety. 

The book starts with Sundance riding into Deadwood to meet Lady Bucknell’s husband so a deal can be made to sell the stallions to the Englishman. Sundance is the only person who knows where the horses are hidden. Things don’t go to plan and soon Sundance and Lady Bucknell are prisoners, held captive by Drury and his gang. I must admit how Sundance and Lady Bucknell escape stretched my belief somewhat as I just couldn’t see how certain elements of the escape could possibly happen. 

Once Sundance and Lady Bucknell head out to retrieve the horses the story really picked up and became a gripping read. Haas introduced some excellent Nez Perce characters and the problems they all faced in getting to the horses and then driving them to Mormon country meant I found the book hard to put down. Haas includes some neat little plot twists; some terrific action scenes and the story had a great ending. All this left me looking forward to reading another Sundance book soon.

And just to mess with your head some more after my thoughts on when this book should be read in the series, I’ll finish with this note. For some reason Leisure published The Wild Stallions again in the series, but under the name of Ride the Man Down, the 22nd book in the series.