Wednesday 30 September 2009

Dead Man's Range

by Paul Durst
A Black Horse Western from Hale, September 2009

The murder trail was eight years old when Jeff Carmody got out of Huntsville Prison and the only clue he had was the rowel of a broken spur he had found that night beside Clint Merriweather’s body.

Booth Anson’s rambling Anvil range hemmed the tiny Merriweather ranch on all sides, but Clint’s widow, Anne, hung stubbornly on. Anson had killed to build his empire – his was a dead man’s range.

But a woman stood in his way now – would he baulk at killing a woman? That was when Carmody picked up his gun.

Dead Man’s Range was originally published in 1958 and is a much longer read than most BHW written today. The total page count is the same but the words are in much smaller print and there are more lines per page.

Paul Durst is a new author to me. A quick search on the Internet reveals he’s had quite a few books published, and if it’s the same person, wrote under at least four pseudonyms.

Dead Man’s Range is a superbly told tale that combines the search for vengeance and land grabbing. All the characters are well drawn and I was soon hooked on finding out who really killed Clint Merriweather, the obvious culprit seemingly having an airtight alibi.

Carmody is a rock-hard hero who doesn’t back down to anyone, even a group of gun carrying riders when he’s unarmed. There’s lots of tough dialogue and plenty of action, some quite brutal; such as the killing of a young girls puppy. The book ends with an exciting, and lengthy, showdown that brings about some surprising revelations. Paul Durst’s descriptions, be they of action sequences or landscape, are first rate, as is his pacing and plotting.

Overall the book didn’t come across as dated, perhaps the only hint as to its age being the absence of swearwords and how Wash, a black man, spoke; ‘Ah din’ think Ah’d ebber cross dat ole ribber again,’ for instance. Even though I had to read that line twice to make sure I’d understood it properly didn’t spoil my enjoyment of this book and I can only hope Hale publishes a few more of Paul Durst’s westerns.

Dead Man’s Range has an official release date of September 30th but is already available from Internet booksellers.

Monday 28 September 2009

The Plains of Laramie

by Lauran Paine
Leisure, October 2009

Frank Travis had no idea why he was being chased. He might not have been able to get away from the posse thundering after him, but no way in hell was he going down without a fight. And sure enough, he managed to down one of his pursuers…before being killed himself.

Parker Travis vows to get vengeance on the vigilantes when he hears his brother was murdered for a crime he didn’t commit. He doesn’t care that the man Frank downed was the sheriff of Laramie. And he doesn’t care that the dead man’s brother has taken over as the new sheriff. Because no one is above the law, and Parker is determined to see justice is done.

Having read a couple of Lauran Paine’s books before and not being very impressed with them I must admit to picking this one up with some trepidation. Seeing that The Plains of Laramie contained three stories I wondered if Paine would have the same impact on me as Louis L’Amour (based on the few books of his I’ve read), that I'd prefer his short stories to his full-length novels?

Boothill’s Ferryman
First appeared in Double-Action Western, 04/1957
Vermilion KidFirst appeared in Double-Action Western, 09/1955
The Plains of LaramieNo previous publishing history is included in my copy.

Boothill’s Ferryman sees a new ferryman raising his prices to the annoyance of the townsfolk. The ferryman is soon accused of shooting a rancher in the back and the sheriff locks him up. Then the ferryman’s kin arrive and this leads to jailbreak and robbery. Outwitted at every turn, it seems the sheriff is either going to be the scapegoat or hero. The story is jam-packed with action, some of the violence quite graphic. The tale finishes with a surprising twist that leads to a triumphant, yet bitter, ending.

Vermilion Kid starts with a resentful Kid mulling over his treatment by a woman. When this young lady’s father is killed he attempts to find the culprit, only to find himself accused of the murder. If you enjoy programmes like CSI you’ll also enjoy how the killer is caught; it’s all to do with how a bullet passes through a horse. Fascinating reading.

The Plains of Laramie is the feature story of this collection, and it’s to this tale that the opening blurb applies. After an action packed opening Paine hooks the reader with many questions about what could have happened to the missing $3.000 as only $9.000 is retrieved from a $12.000 robbery. Paine explores the folly of snap judgements and how these lead to senseless killings and the desire for revenge. There’s a well-written discussion between Parker Travis and the new sheriff about the lust for vengeance due to the loss of a brother. Paine ends this story with an ingenious method of flushing the bad guy out of his hiding place.

So did this collection cause me to revaluate my opinion on Lauran Paine’s writing? Definitely! I really enjoyed the first tale, this just edging the main story in my opinion, and I’ll be delving into my collection for more Lauran Paine books soon.

The Plains of Laramie has a release date of October 1st, but is available now.

Sunday 27 September 2009

The Trailsman #335

as by Jon Sharpe

Signet, September 2009

Skye Fargo has seen a lot of scam artists, and the Trahearne brothers are pure gold. Conning people with crocodile tears and fixed fights, they support themselves and their lovely sister, Laurie. Fargo knows their game. But so does Owen Mullaney – their latest dupe and a man with a killer reputation. Now the only thing between the Trahearnes and the bottom of the Mississippi River is the Trailsman.

This book is filled with superbly drawn characters, from the Trahearne brothers and sister, to Alexis Rimbard and Emory. In fact the two girls, Laurie and Alexis provide one of the most entertaining scenes in the book, as Fargo becomes an object of desire for them both.

What starts out as a fairly straightforward plot soon plunges into mystery as Fargo and the Trahearnes board the riverboat and the Trailsman becomes suspicious of a guarded cargo. Even when he discovers the guards are army personal things still don’t ring true and the plot then moves through a number of twists and turns as it races to its exciting climax.

There’s plenty of action as is to be expected both from this series and from author James Reasoner, the writer behind the pseudonym of Jon Sharpe for this particular entry into the Trailsman series. With a couple of surprising revelations about a one or two of the characters, all the plot threads are neatly tied up.

If you’re a fan of James Reasoner’s work, the Trailsman books, or are just looking for a fast moving western to read, then I’d suggest picking up a copy of this as soon as possible.

Saturday 26 September 2009

Misfit Lil Robs the Bank

as by Chap O’keefe
A Black Horse Western from Hale, September 2009

Misfit Lil’s misalliance with the reckless Texan cowboy Luck M’Cline began while her true friend, mature frontiersman Jackson Farraday, was away in the Henry Mountains. Lil’s crackshot skills saved M’Cline from the claws of a wounded man hating cougar but her actions earned her the enmity of M’Cline’s former sweetheart, Virginia Whitpath. An unladylike fighting showdown with Virginia on Main Street, plus shooting pranks in a saloon with M’Cline, put Lil at the mercy of another arrival. Mesmerist Dr Francois Guiscard, late of a Paris hospital infamous for the experimental treatment of madwomen, was entrusted with curing Lil of her behaviour problems.

Lil had wanted only fun. Could she regain her freedom when Dr Guiscard had devilish plans to capitalize on her unique abilities?

Chap O’keefe (Keith Chapman) pushes the boundaries of the traditional western in this, the sixth Misfit Lil story to be published by Hale. As expected the book moves forward at tremendous speed and sees Lil attempting to bring down Guiscard without the help of her hero Jackson Farraday. There’s plenty of action that includes a well- written catfight between Lil and Virginia.

There are two elements to the plot that provide extra interest, that move the story away from the traditional western tale. The first is the art of hypnotism, and Keith Chapman includes some fascinating facts about the history of the mesmerist. The second is the use of drugs to remove resistance and thus enable rape.

And what of Lil’s relationship with M’Cline? Sorry I’m not going to reveal how that ends – if indeed it does – but will say that the story ends with an exciting showdown in a setting that painted vivid imagery in my mind, and brought to mind those old horror films from Hammer.

So a western that blends the traditional with more challenging subject matter in a well paced plot that once more proves the Misfit Lil series is definitely worth reading.

Misfit Lil Robs the Bank is officially published on September 30th, but is available now from Internet booksellers, and as Chap O’Keefe westerns usually sell-out quickly, I’d suggest you order your copy as soon as possible.

Friday 25 September 2009

Death Comes Riding

by Terrell L. Bowers
A Black Horse Western from Hale, September 2009

Lucas usually avoided contact with the Indians, but fate sometimes stepped in. When a simple job turns out to be a death ride, his relationship with one Indian in particular changes his life forever.

In the midst of an impending war between the assembled tribes of the Black Hills and the army, Lucas partners Daniel Books, a half-Cheyenne who doesn’t really belong on either side of the war. Daniel helps Lucas seek out the men who robbed and shot him, and left him for dead.

Then there is Iris Ducane, the girl who captured Lucas’s heart, already being courted by Captain Bagot, a suave Creole Frenchman from the nearby fort, who wants her for himself…and he is willing to kill Lucas to win her hand!

Set against a backdrop of the coming together of the tribes and the Battle of the Little Big Horn, Terrell L. Bowers packs a lot into Death Comes Riding. His characters are well created and his dialogue is well written, including lots of grin inducing sarcasm, particularly when Iris and her uncle discuss the differences between men and women. There’s plenty of action as Lucas attempts to retrieve a stolen payroll and expose an insurance scam. The contrasts between Lucas and Captain Bagot provide some fascinating reading, which ends in an exciting duel between the two men.

I’m surprised I haven’t read anything by Terrell L. Bowers before as he’s been writing westerns for quite sometime having quite a long list of books published by Hale. More of his work has been published in America by Avalon (seemingly a series set in Broken Spoke, and one of these books has been published by Leisure too). Reckon it’s time to see what else I can find.

Death Comes Riding has an official release date of September 30th, and I’d suggest getting your order in soon, before this one sells-out, as it’s already on sale at the usual Internet booksellers.

Tuesday 22 September 2009


By T.T. Flynn
Leisure, October 2009

The Mexicans call him Ponchito, Little Mild One. Buckshot Bledsoe knows the six-foot, scar-faced, blue-eyed man named Jim Tennant may look calm on the outside, but he’s burning with vengeance inside. Buckshot’s counting on that need for retribution to convince Jim to come back to San Angelo. Things there are bad and only getting worse. But to save the town, reclaim his lost love, and clear his name, Jim will have to face down the very men who came so close to killing him the first time—and he may not be lucky enough to survive twice.

Dead Man Deputy First appeared in Western Story - 01/04/1941
Lodeville First appeared in Star Western – 08/1937 – as Lodeville Calls a Gun-Doctor
Shadow First appeared in Adventure Magazine – 07/23/1926
The Trail to Monterey First appeared in Fifteen Western Tales – 05/1945 – as Guns of the Lobo Trail

Before each story Leisure have included information about T.T. Flynn, for instance about his marriage to Mary C. DeRene, and, of course, about his life as a writer and how each of the four stories in Gunsmoke came about, even saying how much he was paid for a couple of them.

T.T. Flynn packs a lot into these short stories, meaning they are fast moving tales filled with action. His descriptions of both people and settings are second to none. He also uses a lot of dialogue, and it’s this that gives away the age of these tales, as there is a lot more ‘cowboy lingo’ than you’d expect to find in a western written today - not that this type of language is detrimental to this excellent collection of stories.

The first two stories fall into the traditional western category, involving revenge, rustling, stampedes and gold mining. Both these tales have touches of mystery, for instance who is the wounded stranger who arrives in Lodeville. The first story also has a superbly drawn bad guy who also seems to be one step ahead of the hero, Jim Tennant. The fourth story is set during the Mexican war and has a twisting storyline that keeps the reader – and it’s heroes – wondering just what is going on. This story also has the strongest female role.

But it is the third tale that was the standout story for me. This is set around the railroad, and involves a hardworking father of twelve who gets fired due to being drunk whilst celebrating the birth of triplets. Flynn really creates a wonderful feeling of hopelessness for this man as his world comes crashing down. The main element of the plot is a horrific fire in one of the railroad’s buildings during a snowstorm, and it’s how different men react to this that comes across so strongly, the story becoming an exceptional study of human character.

Never having read anything by T.T. Flynn before, I can definitely say, that on the strength of these four stories, I’ll be hunting through my collection of old western pulps for more of his work very soon, and checking Leisure’s back catalogue for more of his books.

Gunsmoke should hit the shelves on October 1st, although it seems to be available from Internet booksellers now.

Monday 21 September 2009

Shoot-Out at San Lorenzo

as by Henry Remington
A Black Horse Western from Hale, September 2009

Blue gunsmoke roils as a vicious gang of killers puts the homes of Arizona settlers to the flames. Who is behind the terror attacks?

Security man James Slaughter suspects the mayor of San Lorenzo, Joe Hagerty, may be the mastermind for he is buying up the settlers’ dispossessed land cheap and fast. Does the mayor’s haughtily beautiful wife, Jane, know more than she reveals? And who is the mysterious Mr Black who arrives at their casino in a private stagecoach in the middle of the night?

Now the trouble comes thick and fast as Slaughter searches for the gang’s hideout and their psychopathic leader. Lightning strikes and guns thunder!

This is the fourth BHW by Henry Remington, the first, A Man Called Slaughter, appeared way back in 1999, and I’m wondering if all four books feature the man called James Slaughter? As Henry Remington is a pseudonym it would seem highly possible that John Dyson uses this author name for books about Slaughter only.

John Dyson has long been a favourite of BHW fans and this book shows why. James Slaughter is an excellent character that is definitely not your clean-cut western hero. He’s a rough, ex-bounty hunter (ex in this book anyway) who doesn’t give a damn about what anyone else thinks of him, he doesn’t worry about the consequences of chasing after married women either.

There’s plenty of action as Slaughter attempts to discover the identity of the man who led the attack on, and destruction of, a train and the massacre of its passengers. The mysterious Mr Black makes for a formidable adversary. The female lead, Jane, is beautifully portrayed and plays an important role in saving Slaughter’s life, but also has to go through some brutal treatment of her own. Dyson handles dialogue and descriptions equally well, and includes a neat twist at the end that I didn’t see coming.

Shoot-Out at San Lorenzo has a release date of September 30th but is available now from Internet booksellers.

Sunday 20 September 2009

The Third Rider

 as by Barry Cord
Trojan, not dated – originally published 1959

The first rider had vanished.

The second filled a pine box in the mission graveyard.

The third was Mel Rawlins, and he wasn’t going to let anything stand in his way. He had left the Stirrup ranch a boy and came back a tough, bitter man. But the Stirrup had changed more than he had. His father was murdered, his two brothers gone, and the lawman who had married Mel’s sister carried a warrant for his arrest.

Now Mel rode for vengeance. He meant to find the vicious El Patrone, whose outlaw band had swept up from the South, burning barns, killing and slaughtering the cattle they did not steal in a senseless orgy of violence.

Peter Germano, writing as Barry Cord, creates some superb atmosphere throughout this book. Many scenes end in such a way that the reader shares the feelings of bitterness, loneliness, despair, and the sense of impending danger with Mel Rawlins, Germano’s choice of words vividly painting haunting images within my mind.

The story is filled with fascinating characters from the bad, the evil, and the innocent – the latter beautifully portrayed in the young girl Loan. Germano also hints that some, if not all, of these people may, or may not, be who they claim to be. The plot is filled with twists and turns, lies, treachery, mistrusts, and gripping action. Germano has Rawlins struggling to discover the hidden truths of what is going on in this small coastal town. The answers are kept from the reader too, and I never guessed what they were. Just what was the secret of the ship that unloaded only undercover of the fog? Who were behind the attempts on Rawlins life and why? Just what part did Loan have to play? And what had happened to the first and second riders?

All this is told at tremendous pace in a fast flowing style that makes the book difficult to put down. Once again Peter Germano proves to be up there with the very best western writers. And of the few Barry Cord books I’ve read so far, this has to be one of my favourites.

Friday 18 September 2009

Misfit Lil Cheats the Hangrope

as by Chap O’Keefe
A Black Horse Extra book, July 2009

The irrepressible Misfit Lil was riding for a fall. She'd chosen to intervene in the fortunes of a wagon train of emigrants led on wrong trails by Luke Reiner, their incompetent guide. And Reiner, hiding an outlaw past, didn't care to have Lil messing with his reputation. Lil's first mistake was in saving a bunch of buttons when the wagons were caught in a ferocious blizzard. Then she recommended her hero, frontiersman Jackson Farraday, to help out, which pitched him into a bloody fight with Reiner. Tangles tightened when the wagonmaster's pretty daughter, Honesty Petrie, took a flirtatious hand. . . . But worse was to follow. Jackson was accused of murder! Could Lil save him from the noose into which she'd run his neck?

The first book from Black Horse Extra is the never before published Misfit Lil Cheats the Hangrope. Misfit Lil has appeared in six other books and has become a favourite leading character for fans of Chap O’Keefe’s work.

The plot is very fast moving and features some superbly written set pieces, such as an breakout that’s made possible due to the use of a rat, and an ingenious method of escaping from a hangrope. The book has plenty of the more traditional action you’d expect to find in a western, which includes an exciting gunfight with outlaws set on wiping out the wagon train Lil finds herself involved with.

The main plotline, of murder, sees Chap O’Keefe explore a different type of killing than one would normally expect to find in a western, proving that there are still new storylines to be found in the genre. Even though I did suspect the right person of this killing I was way out with the how and why and the answers definitely provide a memorable conclusion to this book.

Misfit Lil Cheats the Hangrope can be bought directly from Lulu or Amazon US or Amazon UK (Amazon perhaps the cheapest option as it qualifies for free postage) and I’d urge you to consider buying a copy, not least because you’ll receive a well written and very entertaining western but if this book is successful then Black Horse Extra will publish more quality westerns helping to keep this genre alive.

Wednesday 16 September 2009

Saving Tom Black

 A Jake Silver Adventure
by Jere D. James
Moonlight Mesa Associates, 2009

Escaping from an Orphan Train, teenager Elizabeth DuBonnet sets out to find her mother and sister. With only a little stolen money her determination to succeed is her only strength. As the hopelessness of her task starts to take it’s toll, Elizabeth, with the help of Thomas Jefferson, becomes Tom Black, hoping that disguised as a young man she’ll attract less attention as she continues her search.

Jake Silver is the new U.S. Deputy Marshal whose path keeps crossing that of Tom Black, and like most everyone else who meets Black, sees straight through Elizabeth’s disguise which leads to some very humorous exchanges of dialogue and situations. Silver takes Elizabeth under his wing and promises to help her in her quest. Of course Silver has his own business to attend to and cannot stay with Elizabeth all the time and she once more sets out alone to find her mother.

Elizabeth soon discovers that life on the trail is full of dangers, heartbreak and the confusing emotions of chasing dreams and falling in love. Jake Silver attempts to ward off those feelings of attraction and love, whilst taking on a group of land-grabbers and murderers whilst investigating missing girls that may, or may not, be linked to a local Mormon community.

Jere D. James has written a book that grabs the readers’ attention from the opening paragraph and doesn’t let go until the final word. His smooth flowing prose is easy to read and he paces the story beautifully. There are many heart-warming scenes and others that sadden. There’s plenty of action as both Elizabeth and Silver find themselves fighting for their lives. The book is filled with memorable characters that are portrayed expertly, making it easy for the reader to share their pain and joy.

And does Elizabeth find her mother and sister? Does she find love and happiness with Jake? Sorry that’s not for me to reveal here, you’ll just have to buy the book to find out for yourselves, and hopefully enjoy the journey to those answers as much as I did.

Saving Tom Black will be officially released in late October and will "debut" at Mesa's Old West Days Festival, November 7th and 8th, in Mesa, Arizona. To find out more, and to order the book go here.

A second Jake Silver novel, Apache, is scheduled to appear in 2010.

Friday 11 September 2009


by D.M. McGowan
Strategic Book Publishing, 2008

Thomas Brash is trying to escape but knows he never will. Pursuing him is the memory of the family he lost to cholera. Perhaps he believes that travelling alone in a wild, dangerous land will end all his memories; there is no doubt he wishes to be alone. Whatever his intentions the appearance of Frank Clement and the circumstances of that meeting upset those plans.

Brash views Clement as an uneducated child who requires fatherly protection and guidance. Clement views Brash as a tenderfoot and can not understand how anyone who knows so little could live so long.

These two loners are joined by others and they all become partners. Having achieved relative sanctuary and surrounded by civilization their wilderness past comes back to haunt them.

The two main characters, Thomas Brash and Frank Clements, are like chalk and cheese, their different upbringings making for a good contrast in both beliefs and speech. It also leads to Brash explaining a lot of historical fact to Clements, much like a teacher lecturing a pupil: such as the history of the land they find themselves in (Canada), its geography, and who owns it and how this came to be. I did find the huge differences in the way Brash and Clements spoke jarred with each other at times, interrupting the smooth flow of the rest of the story.

Dave McGowan also features a number of real people and events; Jerry Potts (aka Bear Child), a great scout and guide. Jack Lawson, a constable killed whilst investigating horse theft. One Ear Charlie, the man who killed Lawson. All these people, and more, fit naturally into the story – in fact the last two were the source of the most exciting part of the tale for me.

The book follows Brash and Clements growing friendship through a series of different events, linked solely by these two characters. They witness the killing of some Indians, have a showdown with the killers. Next, find themselves living with a band of Blackfoot, having to prove themselves to them, fight with them, and nearly end up with wives – this latter part providing some humorous situations. Finally Brash and Clements hunt for gold whilst looking for Clements father, and it’s during this time of their lives that they become involved with Lawson and One Ear.

Partners is a well told story that entertains and educates. It’s a long book too, providing a big read for your money.

Tuesday 8 September 2009

Western Fiction News

During the first few months of 2009 Leisure Westerns (Dorchester) published the first four in their Classic Film Collection

The next four books in this collection will be published in 2010.

Coming in March will be The Outlaw Josey Wales by Forrest Carter. The film version of this classic western starred, and was directed by Clint Eastwood. (Leisure will also be publishing the sequel: The Vengeance Trail of Josey Wales)

April will see the publication of Blood on the Moon by Luke Short. This was made into the famed noir western of the same name directed by Robert Wise and starred Robert Mitchum. (Leisure will also be publishing Luke Short’s novels Ambush and Vengeance Valley)

Appearing in May will be The Stalking Moon by T.V. Olsen. The film was directed by Robert Mulligan and starred Gregory Peck.

Rounding up this next set of four will be June’s publication The Tall Men by Will Henry. Directed by Raoul Walsh the film starred Clark Gable and Jane Russell.

Sunday 6 September 2009

The Trailsman #334

as by Jon Sharpe

Signet, August 2009

When Skye Fargo comes across a dead young man near the town of Cawthorne, Colorado, he figures he’ll do the right thing and take the body to town for burial. But he learns soon enough that lately dying has been real easy to do in Cawthorne. Someone in town has developed a taste for murder – and the Trailsman might just be the next course.

Finding the dead man is just the start of Fargo’s problems, seems he knows Cawthorne’s lawman too, and it’s this Sheriff that tries to persuade the Trailsman to help him find the killer. Fargo wants none of this, just wants to ride on, but the author (Ed Gorman) soon has Fargo facing three tearful women who ask for his help in tracking down the killer, and Fargo soon finds himself saying yes.

This is when the book turns into a detective novel as Skye Fargo tries his best to work like a Pinkerton agent. And this is the type of storyline that this particular author writes so well. He soon has Fargo struggling to unravel a web of lies as his list of suspects grows, and two more murders come to light. Seems the three dead men may have held up a stagecoach just before their deaths.

Ed Gorman packs the story with great characters, most that could have something to do with the murders and I soon had my choice for the guilty person – which changed and then changed back again. But I should have known better than to try and work out one of this writer’s plots as the story worked swiftly through twists and turns, half-truths and misdirection. Of course the killer wasn’t who I thought, in fact came as a welcome surprise.

For fans of Ed Gorman and/or The Trailsman, make sure you don’t miss this one.

Friday 4 September 2009

Wilderness #61

as by David Thompson

Leisure, September 2009

Raised amid the rough terrain of the Rocky Mountains, Evelyn King always relished adventure. And a buffalo hunt sounded like a wonderful way to get it. Even better – she wouldn’t be under the watchful eye of her parents since she was going with their neighbors, a small band of Nansusequa Indians. But the members of their party aren’t the only predators on the plains. A gang of scalp hunters is heading to New Mexico Territory, collecting as many trophies as they can along the way. And Evelyn and her friends are a perfect target….

Books 58 and 59 followed Nate King as he helped some runaway slaves, book 60 explained what Zach King was doing at that time, so it only seems correct that David Thompson (David Robbins) now tells of Evelyn King’s battle for survival and her growing affections for Dega, during that same time period.

In fact the deepening affections that both Evelyn and Dega are feeling for each other form one of the main story threads throughout this book. As young love blossoms David Robbins spins a heart-warming tale of two young people experiencing feelings they’ve never known before, emotions they are unsure of how to act upon. This leads to some wonderful dialogue as they grow ever closer, at times adding moments of humour as Dega struggles to speak, and understand, the English language. But it also seems that not everyone they hold dear is keen on how this relationship is developing, making the reader wonder what is in store for this engaging couple.

But this would not be a Wilderness book without the constant threat of death from both nature and man. The scalp hunters of the title make for a formidable enemy for Evelyn and her Nansusequa companions. These hunters are brutal men who will stop at nothing to get what they want: their leader, Venom, having a particularly vile perversion that follows the scalping of his victims. This band of killers has its own problems too, in the form of leadership challenges: something that will play a savage part in the outcome of this novel.

As expected from David Robbins the book is a fast flowing read, full of cliff-hanger situations that ensure you keep reading. The balance between the violence and the tenderness of growing love is superbly done. And the inclusion of a wagon-train that perhaps seems inconsequential at the time turns out to have great importance to not just the end of this book but would seem to be setting up the next story, and thus, like all great serials, has this reader eager for the next book in the series.

Wednesday 2 September 2009

Lone Star #21

as by Wesley Ellis
Jove, May 1984

Half-breed James “Two Wolves” Campbell had only one thing in mind: to kill the man who had poisoned his people and used the Apaches to spread terror in the West. In him, Ki met his match in battle, and Jessie found some of the most passionate moments of her life. Together they fought to uproot the greatest evil the West had ever known.

This is an easy to read, action packed, story that has Jessie and Ki riding alongside a great character in James Campbell, a man who gets his hooks into Jessie’s emotions, allowing the author to show a more vulnerable side to Jessie than other books have done, particularly when Two Wolves foresees his own death.

At first you wonder as to the outcome as Jessie is planning to do business with Lowell Henry, the man Campbell wants to kill, causing a conflict of interests for Jessie.

There are some great descriptions of hand-to-hand combat and plenty of gunfights as the story races to its savage conclusion.

I did wonder as to why the book was called Apache Revenge as Two Wolves is half Comanche, but that’s only a slight criticism, as there is a little bit of Apache revenge near the end.

In conclusion this was a very enjoyable entry into this long running series.