Tuesday 11 August 2009

Claw #1

as by Matthew Kirk

Granada, 1983

Trained to live by the strength of his hand…he would learn to kill by the power of his CLAW

Blacksmith Tyler Wyatt was not a man to go looking for trouble, but trouble found him the day Vance Jennings and his gang hit town. They took away his wife, his home…and his left hand. They gave him in return a searing lust for death and revenge that nothing – no matter how bloody – could ever satisfy.

This series was the last to come from the group of British writers known as the Piccadilly Cowboys, and Angus Wells wrote all six books.

Like most of the western series from this group of authors the first book sees the hero’s happy life destroyed and him setting out on the revenge trail.

The book begins with Wyatt about to torture and kill a lawman in his quest to track down and kill Jennings and his gang. How Wyatt came to be on this vengeance trail is told in a series of flashbacks, which form the major part of this story, the book ending not that much further into the future than were it began. Like all good serials this one doesn’t see Wyatt fulfilling his mission to kill all the men who wronged him, thus ensuring you’ll buy the next book to see what happens next.

Angus Wells probably wrote the most descriptive books when it came to the actual killings and brutality than any of the other PC authors and, with this series, he perhaps out-does even himself. Many of the violent acts, be they rape, torture, or killing, are depicted in savage detail, often taking a couple of pages to describe. The destruction of Wyatt’s hand and its subsequent amputation being cases in point. Of course having Wyatt replace his hand with a claw allows Wells to write even more gruesome death scenes as this is Wyatt’s preferred weapon for dealing out his form of justice.

The story moves swiftly from one bloody act to another and it’s interesting to observe the changes Wyatt goes through as each new horror befalls him and those he loves. Jennings and his gang are equally well drawn and the book sets up the revenge theme that will continue over the course of the next two books extremely well.

I always thought it a shame the cover artist, Roger Payne, didn’t paint the claw a little more like it’s described by Angus Wells but it’s not that far off.

Due to it’s extreme graphic violence the Claw series wont be to everyone’s tastes but if you like the other PC westerns then I’d say it’s a safe bet that you’ll enjoy this one too.


Matthew P. Mayo said...

I've always thought that this cover is, well, pretty bad. Maybe unfortunate's the more diplomatic word. The man's expression just makes me laugh out loud every time I see it.

Despite that, I'd like to read the book!


jseger9000 said...

I'm interested in the Piccadilly Cowboys and their works, but Claw always just seemed like a bit much. Not that I demand realism in a western, but the metal claw just seems too silly. I guess it just reminded me of that old urban legend about The Hook.

I have to say though, your review did make the book sound interesting.

And I agree with Matthew about the expression. To me Claw looks drunk, or like he just finished a good belch.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Or is suffering from bells palsy

Anonymous said...

Quentin Tarantino Django Unchained and now Enzo G.Castellari is to film The Angel,The Brute and the Wise with Franco Nero.Is the timing right for a Italian/British co-production of Claw.Anson Mount/Philip Glenister?or David Hyde Pierce has The Undertaker?

Sky said...

I read the first book of Claw around 33 ago. It was an awesome book to a 15 year old that loved cowboys. I have since been searching for the rest of the series and just never been able to find them. I will search until i do.

The claw is easy to understand when you have read the first book. He was a blacksmith, his wife raped and killed, so makes a claw for a hand.

James Seger said...

Hey Piccadilly Publishing is releasing Claw #1 on April 1!