Sunday 31 January 2010

Border Fury

as by Corba Sunman
A Black Horse Western from Hale, January 2010

Buck Starrett, Texas Ranger, had a reputation for fast shooting and a determination to win against overwhelming odds. He was optimistic when he took a novice ranger to Adobe Flat on the Mexican border, but he was unaware that the grim set-up that awaited them would be his toughest challenge yet.

When they plunged into an all-out war with Mexican rustlers operating on both sides of the border, Starrett discovered that this desperate situation was only half the problem facing him. He would have to shoot his way into the crooked situation enveloping Adobe Flat before he could even begin to overcome the criminal element and shoot his way out again.

If it’s action you want from a western then this book is the one you want, the gunplay doesn’t seem to let up for a moment, the outcome of one gunfight leading to the next almost immediately.

Corba Sunman doesn’t believe in giving Starrett an easy life, here he has to deal with a town under the iron rule of Red Satterfield who has many gunmen on his payroll, all eager to kill the Ranger. Then there’s a corrupt lawman and Mexican rustlers. All these factions maybe working alone or altogether, one thing is certain they all want Starrett dead.

Due to the tremendous amount of gunfights there isn’t much room for plot twists, so the tale is pretty straight forward and easy to follow. Sunman’s writing style is easy to read and rattles along at a fair pace. Overall this is a very entertaining read.

Border Fury is officially released this weekend and should be available from the usual Internet sources.

Saturday 30 January 2010

Sharpshooter McClure

by I.J. Parnham
A Black Horse Western from Hale, January 2010

Mike McClure had been a deputy sheriff for only a week when US Marshal Jesse Cole recruited him for a dangerous undercover mission to infiltrate the hired guns who were harassing the homesteaders of Harmony. But in a dreadful night of bloody carnage the mission ended in failure and with the marshal dead, Mike had to flee for his life.

To escape from the gunslingers on his trail, Mike holed up with Brandon Webb’s Wild West Show where he assumed a new identity. But no matter how successful he became in his new life, Mike could never forget the terrible events he had witnessed. One day he must return to Harmony and call upon all his gun skills to bring the guilty parties to grim justice.

What starts out as a straight-forward western plot soon becomes more complex as Brandon Webb’s Wild West Show is introduced to the storyline. Those who have read other books by Ian Parnham will be expecting twists to the story and this book has plenty of those.

Ian Parnham also has his hero horrifically disfigured, which came as a shocking surprise that added an extra element to the story, one that is used to great effect latter in the tale.

The book is fast moving, full of action and well-crafted characters – particularly McClure, who can’t seem to do right no matter how hard he tries. Ian Parnham creates a gripping air of suspense during the Wild West Show’s final performance that results in an exciting showdown.

Another book that proves I.J. Parnham is an author worth reading.

Sharpshooter McClure should be available now from the usual Internet bookstores or from the publisher direct.

Thursday 28 January 2010

Western Fiction News

Tomorrow The Tainted Archive launches a weekend of posts about the western, specifcally those put out  English publisher Hale under the Black Horse Western banner.

Keep checking back throughout the weekend as the aim is to post at least 100 items about these books, including reviews, interviews, articles, and a western comic strip.

This is something that all western fans should not miss! 

Fans of J.A. Johnstone's The Loner series will be pleased to see that four new books have been announced in the series. These are:

#4: The Big Gundown - published February 2010
#5: Rattlesnake Valley - published April 2010
#6: Seven Ways to Die - published June 2010
#7: The Bounty Killers - published October 2010

This series is only available through Walmart or the Johnstone website.

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Longarm #374

As by Tabor Evans
Jove, January 2010

When Deputy U.S. Marshal Custis Long trails a gang of murdering outlaws into the desert, he finds the stinging sandstorms worse than any hail of lead. And after one storm blows over, Longarm finds himself in the middle of an abandoned town that was previously hidden under the sand.

Soon he discovers the town isn’t the only thing that was buried. A lovely lady with a treasure chest of her own has braved the elements to find some hidden loot. Funny thing about treasure, though – it draws hard cases like corpses draw buzzards. And as the town becomes repopulated with armed men, the sands of time may be running out for Longarm…

This book opens with a violent gunfight that sees Longarm following those outlaws who escape into the desert. The author (in this case James Reasoner) describes the environment of the desert and the sandstorms so well you can feel the heat and the grit of the sand. Longarm has to fight for his life, not only against outlaws but also the ferocity of Mother Nature too.

James has created some fascinating characters in this story, particularly Haygood McCready and Melinda Kelly, the latter due to the fact you are never quite sure if she’ll turn on, and try to kill, Longarm at any time, which adds an element of suspense to the story.

The book is fast moving and takes place over a short period of time – days rather than weeks – and is filled with action and treachery as companions turn on one another once the treasure is discovered.

All in all, this is an excellent entry into the long-running Longarm series and one that fans of James Reasoner’s work should not miss.

Saturday 23 January 2010

The Trailsman #87

as by Jon Sharpe
Signet, March 1989

Good-looking women in the Arizona wilds were worth their weight in gold for anyone who could supply them to the lonely, lusting men eager to pay for their pleasures.

When a gang of vicious gunmen decided to make a killing in the skin trade, they kidnapped women the same way rustlers stole cattle, and sold them like meat. Their one big mistake was grabbing the two daughters of rich old Owen Hatchfield, because he hired Skye Fargo to rescue them and sweep the desert clean of this filthy, savage scourge. And Fargo lost no time fulfilling his duty, as he shot his way through every brothel and every badman in Arizona…

Fast paced, loads of fighting action, jealous women, and a generous amount of sex (this is an adult western series after all – and the earlier books in this long running series had much more of this than the books do these days), and a twisting plot that sees Fargo trying to solve the mystery of who is behind the kidnapping gang. Fargo is a tough man who’ll back down from no one and will stop at nothing to achieve his goal. Going by the style of writing, and the length of the chapters, I’d guess at this being by series creator Jon Messmann.

A while back I reviewed The Trailsman #100: Riverboat Gold, and I said I was disappointed that it seemed like Fargo and Canyon O’Grady (the lead character from Jon Sharpe’s other series) already knew each other, as I believed they’d been teamed up for the landmark 100th Trailsman book. Brothel Bullets reveals that Fargo and O’Grady had met before and this book is definitely where they first met (whether they team up in any others I’ve yet to discover), and O’Grady has his part to play in bringing down the gang. His past and who he is Messmann keeps shrouded in mystery, I guess to encourage readers to buy the Canyon O’Grady series when it was launched in July 1989.

Overall a very entertaining book in The Trailsman series, and a must read for fans of the Canyon O’Grady series.

Tuesday 19 January 2010

Liberty and a Law Badge

as by Chap O’Keefe
A Black Horse Extra book, January 2010

Crazy Bob McGill played Peeping Tom at Devil’s Lake and his old heart was pierced. The young woman Sheriff Dan Vickers had brought to share the isolation of his fishing retreat was McGill’s sweet daughter, Liberty. What McGill didn’t learn was that Liberty had been blackmailed. Her self-sacrifice was to preserve the dubious security of marriage to a spineless rancher Tom Tolliver, caught changing a cattle brand with a running-iron.

Meanwhile, Joshua Dillard, ex-Pinkerton agent and range detective, came to Montana working undercover for Vickers’ boss, cattle baron Barnaby Lant. He quickly clashed with Vickers’ deputies, supposed allies, and Vickers’ wife Sophie, on her own vengeance trail.

Then lynching and gunplay muddied the picture. Could Joshua bring justice to the range and save Liberty?

This is Chap O’Keefe’s 9th Joshua Dillard book, the previous eight being published by Hale under their Black Horse Western line, and the second book the author has published as a Black Horse Extra book, the first being Misfit Lil’ Cheats the Hangrope.

From the very beginning this book moves at speed and then races along like a runaway train heading for a collision and destruction. As Chap O’Keefe introduces more and more characters, so the plot deepens through twists and turns, and all sides are brought together for a final, exciting, clash of wits, guns and knives.

Chap O’Keefe’s writing style is very readable and soon sucks you into the plot making this book very difficult to put down. There are plenty of strong male characters and a couple of memorable women, namely Liberty and Sophie, who take two of the leading roles in this tale. And if it’s action you want, this story is brimming with it.

Liberty and a Law Badge can be bought directly from the publishers here. Fans of Chap O’Keefe’s work (real name Keith Chapman) – in particular those who follow his Joshua Dillard series – will be pleased to know that the end of this month also sees the official release of the eighth Dillard book, published as a Black Horse Western by Hale, titled Faith and a Fast Gun; this should be available from all the usual Internet book sellers now.

Saturday 16 January 2010

Dead Man's Guns

as by Logan Winters
A Black Horse Western from Hale, January 2010

The killer Frank Lavender was dead, so how could it be that he was involved in a gunfight at Hoyt’s Camp, a logging town along Wyoming’s Snake River? Either Lavender had found a way to cheat Death or it was someone else using the gunman’s name.

Lyle Colbert didn’t like it either way for Frank Lavender, or whoever it was, had come to town to destroy Lyle Colbert, supposedly out of love for the pretty Tess Bright. It wasn’t certain if Tess reciprocated the gunman’s love, but it did not matter for she would have no time to make up her mind. Colbert was determined to kill Frank Lavender. Again.

Logan Winters begins this book with an exciting chase that leaves a man near dead, and without a memory of who he is. Once found by a family struggling to make a living as loggers, the father sees an opportunity to solve his problems through deceit – although he considers himself both “fortunate and ingeniously clever” – tricking the stranger into believing he’s someone he’s not.

And so begins an exciting tale of a logging war and discovery; the latter being of the stranger trying to piece his past life back together and finding out who he really is, and that of love. There are plenty of memorable characters, not least the stranger, there’s also Tess and her brother, Andy. Then there’s the hired gun Santana with his own code on who he’ll kill.

The action scenes are first rate and Winter’s writing is easy to read and well paced, as I’d expect having read other books by this author – which meant the small continuity error near the end came as a bit of a surprise, still this did nothing to spoil my enjoyment of the book and wont keep me from reading more of his work.

Dead Man’s Guns is officially released at the end of January but can be pre-ordered now from the usual Internet sources. If you are thinking of buying this book then you might like to know that this author – real name Paul Lederer – also has a second BHW published this month called Quinn’s Last Run as by Owen G. Irons.

Thursday 14 January 2010

To Die This Day

as by Clint Ryker
A Black Horse Western from Hale, January 2010

The rich and powerful Traffords are both proud and relieved when their eldest son, Luke, returns home safely to the family ranch after the war. When his wartime partner and hero, Clayton Grady, shows up too, the homecoming celebrations rock the county.

How could veteran Luke Trafford know that this seemingly happy event would in time tear his family apart and lead to a nightmare of deceit, suspicion and bloody murder, as horrific as anything he had encountered during the war…

Like the majority of Black Horse Westerns, this book is a very quick and easy read. Clint Ryker plots his tale well, introducing a number of great characters, such as the old ranch hand, Kentucky, who soon becomes suspicious of Grady. Then there is the Sheriff, Ben Clanton, who is tracking down a gang of bank robbers, and the two bounty hunters who are hunting the same men.

Ryker spends most of the time developing his characters and bringing them all together for the final violent confrontation. Ryker creates a building tension as he slowly reveals the truth about Grady, one that at anytime threatens to explode in savage violence.

Black Horse Westerns are well produced books so I was a little surprised when reading the blurb on the book (I’ve altered it above) to see a mix-up of names as of what happens to who, but this, of course, is an observation that wont spoil the readers enjoyment of the book.

To Die This Day has a release date of the January 30th, and is now available for pre-order at many Internet bookstores.

Tuesday 12 January 2010

Medicine Hat

by David Walks-As-Bear
Whiskey Creek Press, 2009

Shamus Ghillie is a half-Choctaw-half-Irish former elite Confederate soldier, who is, likewise, a man of the wild and untamed west. He’s imbued with rare, and unusual, skills as a hunter of both animals and…men. It is this man, and his unique talents that President Grant wants to secretly enlist to deal with trouble along the boundary of the newly formed nation of Canada, just north of the Montana Territory.

But, men like Ghillie don’t come easily, and, if they come at all…they don’t come cheap. Shamus distrusts government – any government – but the money’s good, and he has a kid sister to consider. Still, truth be told…he would’ve taken on this task to gain justice for the Blackfeet – free of charge – had they not offered a fee. So, he becomes the nation’s first unofficial, yet official, spy with the U.S. Secret Service.

The full title of this book is Shamus Ghillie U.S. Secret Service in Medicine Hat. It’s billed as the first in a series – and I’ve been told there will definitely be two more at least – and is also David Walks-As-Bear’s first western.

The opening scene is full of tension – even though you know the assassination can’t take place – and it’s here that the character of Ghillie grabs the readers attention, making you want to read more about him. As you do a fascinating tale unfolds, full of well-drawn characters, such as Lieutenant Johnson, a man who will ride with Ghillie through much of the book, a man who will struggle to understand, and trust, Ghillie.

The story moves fast and is told in a very easy to read style. David Walks-As-Bear slips in a number of lesser-known historical facts, such as the Indian story of the Canadian town of Seven Persons. There are also a number of real people too, including President Grant and Wild Bill Hickok – the latter is in the book only briefly and reveals a bit about Ghillie’s past.

All through the book the reader begins to believe they know who Ghillie is, but right at the end David Walks-As-Bear slips in a twist making the reader begin to wonder all over again, and hopefully makes the reader want to read the next book in the series to learn more about Shamus Ghillie and the horse he rides… I for one will be eagerly waiting for the next book.

If you’d like to find out more about David Walks-As-Bear, and his books, then you can by visiting his website here.

Sunday 10 January 2010

The Gunsmith #334

as by J.R. Roberts

Jove, October 2009

Clint Adams is travelling wherever the wind takes him when he comes across an unusual cry for help. A scrap of paper from a newspaper he’s never heard of is carried to him on the breeze with three desperate words scrawled on it: Please help us! Thing is, the newspaper is dated two years ago – and it’s from a town Clint’s never seen on any map.

When Clint starts asking folks about the mystery town, he can’t get a straight answer. Determined to get to the bottom of things, Clint pays a prison visit to a convicted murderer with a cell full of secrets. There are some hard cases who won’t make it easy for Clint to know the truth – and as he gets closer, the Gunsmith runs the risk of getting blown away…

Written in J.R. Roberts’ (Robert J. Randisi) usual fast paced, smooth flowing, dialogue driven, style, this book is filled with mystery. Who wrote the message? Why do they need help? Why does every person Clint asks about the town of Organ Pipe deny any knowledge of it when it’s obvious they’re lying? Is prisoner Joe Hickey telling the truth?

All these questions lead to more, and I soon found I needed to know the answers as much as the Gunsmith, which made the book very difficult to put down. I had my suspicions as to what was going on but each of my thoughts was proved wrong with each plot twist, such as Joe Hickey’s explanation of what had happened to the town of Organ Pipe.

If all these puzzles aren’t enough problems for Clint Adams, there’s the man aiming to kill the Gunsmith and there’s also a jealous man. Of course Clint finds time for some moments of pleasure with a couple of women he meets – after all this is an adult western. And after a tense showdown all the plot threads are neatly tied up, which leads me to recommend this book to all readers who enjoy a western full of mystery. Fans of Robert Randisi’s work make sure you don’t miss this one.

Monday 4 January 2010

The Trailsman #338

As by Jon Sharpe

Signet, December 2009

Skye Fargo is no stranger to the Comanche. He knows how they think, how they fight, and how they attack on the warpath. They’ve taken young Emily Franklin from her family on the Texas frontier, and the Trailsman is going after her. But the deadly quarry he’s chasing down has nothing on the vicious hunters chasing him.

For the second book in a row we have James Reasoner writing as Jon Sharpe, and once more James turns out a cracking read. This is a story with a very fast moving plot that’s filled with exciting action and lots of cliff-hanger situations and chapter endings, all building up to a terrific finale. James also includes a number of twists and surprises along the way.

One of the reasons I like the Trailsman books is that it’s about the only western series being written today that often features Indians (or should that be Native Americans?) as the heroes main adversaries – not just being a small part of a larger plot – and early on in the story Fargo is involved in a tense and frantic clash with a band of Comanche that is very visually written.

Like many books in this series Fargo doesn’t have just the one enemy to contend with. There are others too, and a case of mistaken identity finds the Trailsman in all kinds of trouble.

Fans of the Trailsman series should definitely enjoy this book, as should fans of James Reasoner’s writing. And to those who’ve never tried either, then I’d suggest this could be a great book to start with.

Sunday 3 January 2010

Six For Laramie

as by Rick Dalmas
A Black Horse Western from Hale, December 2009

Six of them came to Laramie that early summer: six gunfighters all hungry for money and not too fussy about how they earned it. They all had their reasons – greed was not a factor in every case.

Bannerman, toughest and fastest, had a special reason: one of the six had backshot a friend, and there was no charge for what he intended to do to that man. Even if it disrupted the plans for the main job for which he had been hired. And that would put him on the wrong end of the gun. Five guns.

I don’t think I’ve read any other BHW that has had its hero hired to commit a crime. Here we have Bannerman, and the other five of the title, hired to rob a train of a payroll and something else that will also be in the safe. That ‘something else’ is kept a mystery until near the end, so hooking the reader’s interest and ensuring they keep reading.

Bannerman is a well drawn character, as is Mariah – who hires the gunmen and sets up the robbery – and these two have some excellent dialogue exchanges in their many battles of wills. The other main characters are equally as engaging.

The book is very fast paced and full of action which all builds up well to the train robbery, that doesn’t go quite as planned. But are the books heroes successful in their mission? After all they are basically outlaws, so does bad win over good? My lips are sealed on this, you’ll have to read it yourself to find out, and I believe you’ll be just as entertained by the story as I was.

Six for Laramie was officially published on December 31st. Rick Dalmas is a new pseudonym for Keith Hetherington, and for fans of his work – like myself – you’ll be pleased to know he had two books published by Hale on December 31st, the other being Shoot, Run or Die! as by Jake Douglas.