Friday 30 April 2010

By the Gun They Died

as by Matt James
A Black Horse Western from Hale, April 2010

With seven killers camped on his trail, big Blaze Morgan rode south into Weeping Woman Valley. With his superior gun skills and horsemanship, Morgan expected to shake his pursuers quickly, but soon realizes he will be lucky to survive the next-four hours…

How can he possibly overcome such obstacles?

Matt James hooks the reader quickly by throwing in many questions that just have to be answered before the book can be put down. Questions such as who are the twins that live in the large house in Weeping Woman Valley? Why won’t they answer any of Morgan’s questions? Will they kill Morgan? Will the seven killers hell-bent on revenge be successful in their quest? Whose body does Morgan discover hastily buried, who killed him and why?

Of course Matt James is a pseudonym and it’s one of those used by long-time western author Paul Wheelahan. A writer, who knows his craft extremely well, knows how to keep his readers turning the pages. His characters are believable, his descriptions paint vivid images within the minds eye, his dialogue is convincing. All these things combine to make this book a gripping and action filled yarn that will definitely appeal to most western fans.

By the Gun They Died is officially published today but has been available for a while and if you want a copy I suggest you put your order in as soon as possible as BHW tend to sell out very quickly.

Wednesday 28 April 2010

Wind Rider

by Thomas McNulty
A Black Horse Western from Hale, April 2010

His name is Hank Benteen, but the Sioux call him Wind Rider…

When Benteen rides into a Wyoming valley, he saves a homesteader’s life and that of his two children, but there’s a range war brewing and some of the cowboys are hiding a murderous secret.

Suddenly, Benteen finds himself involved in a deadly conflict as he resolves to help the homesteaders against impossible odds. Before long, Benteen finds himself the target of two greedy men intent on murder. Their dream of acquiring land by forcing out the homesteaders has turned into a deadly game and Benteen will need all of his skills as a gunman in order to survive…

When I finished reading Thomas McNulty’s first BHW, Trail of the Burned Man, I finished by saying I was looking forward to more from this author, so I eagerly picked up this book hoping it would entertain me as much as the first one did.

Once again I found Thomas McNulty’s writing to be extremely readable, the plot developing quickly and easily drawing me into the story. With the man known as Wind Rider, McNulty has created a superbly drawn character that almost immediately had me wishing their were more stories about him. Thomas McNulty does delve into Benteen’s past as he fleshes his hero out but I’m sure there are many tales yet to be told about him.

What seems to be a straightforward land grab story proves to be anything but as Thomas McNulty puts his own twist to this familiar plot.

The book is also filled with some great action sequences. The one fairly early on where Benteen strolls into a saloon and, although heavily out-numbered, forces a gunfight with a group of cowboys, really defines Wind Rider, as well as providing some very exciting reading.

Once again Thomas McNulty has proved he’s an author worth taking the time to read and, like before, I look forward to his next BHW.

Wind Rider is officially released on April 30th but is available now from Internet booksellers.

Sunday 25 April 2010

Murdering Wells

as by Greg Mitchell
A Black Horse Western from Hale, April 2010

When a military deserter robs a mail contractor and leaves him to the mercy of Apache raiders in a remote corner of Arizona, the contractor’s brother, Luke Adison, vows to track down those responsible.

Soon, the tables turn, however, as Luke is captured by the deserters. Will he manage to escape and avenge his brother, or will he learn the true secret behind the sinisterly named Murdering Wells?

Luke Adison makes for an engaging hero. He’s a man who is perhaps a little too trusting, particularly of women. But having said that when he teams up with a brother and sister he does remain slightly suspicious of them – and they of him. This allows the author to add a sense of mystery to the tale around their reasons for wanting to find the deserters.

Greg Mitchell’s descriptions are very well written. When his characters are struggling to survive in the desert you share their thirst, feel the heat of the sun.

And what of the secret of Murdering Wells? I’m not going to reveal that here but I will say it makes for a fine conclusion to the story and leads to a just ending for some of the characters.

Greg Mitchell is a pseudonym used by Paddy Gallagher and here he presents the reader with an entertaining read that offers great characters, plenty of action and a few surprises along the way.

Murdering Wells is the ninth book from this author, but the first one I’ve read, and it definitely has me wanting to check out more of his work.

The book is officially published on April 30th but is available now from the usual Internet sources.

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Outlaw Train

by Cameron Judd
Leisure, March 2010

Deputy Luke Cable’s job has gotten a whole lot harder lately. He’s been acting marshal since Marshal Ben Keely left on a trip east—and disappeared. It’s up to Luke to keep the peace, and that’s hard to do since the arrival of the Outlaw Train, a travelling collection of curiosities, including the remains of notorious outlaws. But not all the outlaws in town are dead. Scar Nolan is very much alive. He came to town right after the train pulled in. He’s killed before and unless Luke can stop him he’s aiming to do it again aboard the…Outlaw Train.

Cameron Judd fills this book with a fascinating bunch of characters, many of who are involved in enterprises that don’t turn up that often in westerns. People such as the man with the tattooed ears who owns the Outlaw Train – a rolling museum of dead outlaws and weapons used to kill others. Then there’s the stunning Katrina Haus who claims she can communicate with the dead – a woman who some suspect of being the missing killer Kate Bender. There’s the mysterious man who lives in seclusion above the Emporium, never venturing outside. My favourite is the ex-drunk, Dewitt Stamps, who has now got religion in a big way and is employed as the jailer. And it’s not just people that cause problems for Deputy Luke Cable; what of the severed leg found near the railway tracks?

Cameron Judd combines all these elements, and more, in a very fast moving and difficult to put down story that fuels the imagination. As all his characters come together in the town of Wiles, Kansas, the author has another surprise waiting for the reader which resolves all his storylines in a dramatic and violent conclusion.

I also liked the fact that Cameron Judd included a real person in the story, Kate Bender. Is she the person pretending to be Katrina Haus? That’s something you’ll have to find out for yourself, and hopefully you’ll be as entertained as I was with this book whilst finding out the answer.

I’ve only read a couple of books by Cameron Judd and this one has me very eager to try more.

Monday 12 April 2010

Unsigned Avenger

by John Davage
A Black Horse Western from Hale, April 2010

When Will Cord is shot dead for the brutal killing of Ali Toombs, Joe Hayes and his two sons know the real killer is still at large…

Could it be Cole Sanderson, only recently arrived in Consolation? Saloon girl, Maggie Brown, knows he is not who he says he is. Or could it be Lew Rosen, long-time editor of the Gazette, who himself is suspicious of the Hayes brothers?

As fear and suspicion spread faster than a prairie fire, is anyone safe from accusation and violence?

This story is set nearly twenty years after the killing of Ali Toombs, and the author expertly leads the reader through a gripping storyline full of mystery. The reader is let in on who killed Ali Toombs early in the tale, but who is leaving notes relating to that long ago killing? John Davage cunningly points the finger at many of his characters, and keeps the reader guessing until he’s ready to reveal all.

John Davage moves his story forward at a swift pace, as people begin to lose their nerve and begin killing one another. You’ll have met many of the characters before: there’s the land hungry rancher, the banker who forecloses on loans, the lawman in the rancher’s pocket (due to marrying into the family), the newspaperman, the whore, and the stranger who hides behind an alias. But it’s how the author has his characters react to each other and the motives behind their actions that give this book a freshness that pulls the reader into the plot, which is all tied up neatly by the end.

As far as I can tell this is the first BHW by John Davage, and, on the strength of this one, I can only hope there will be many more.

Unsigned Avenger is officially released on April 30th but is available now from the usual Internet sources.

Thursday 8 April 2010

Herne the Hunter #17

as by John J. McLaglen
Corgi, 1981

When bank robber George Wright decides to take advantage of his fleeting resemblance to Herne the Hunter by crediting his own crimes to the shootist, Herne becomes both hunter and hunted – he must track down Wright and his gang in order to acquit himself, and he must avoid a lynch mob of outraged citizens hell-bent on hanging him high…

This book is pretty much a straight forward track them down and kill them story. By having someone who looks like Herne as the main outlaw allows for a couple of cases of mistaken identity, which see Herne captured by a posse and nearly hanged. This part of the story echoes a scene from the classic Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark in which the hanging is delayed so the “guilty” man can write a letter. In this case though Jed Herne uses his pencil as a weapon to escape, by stabbing it through one of his captors’ eyes.

As with much of the violence in the books written by the group of authors (in this case Laurence James) known today as The Piccadilly Cowboys, the above scene is described in all it’s gory detail as are all the other violent acts carried out during Herne’s attempts to clear his name.

James also includes a neat twist as to the identity of one of the outlaw gang, not that this has any effect on Herne’s cold-blooded mission to see the outlaws pay for blaming him for their crimes.

The Hanging may not be the best book Laurence James ever wrote, or even the best in the Herne the Hunter series, but it is a fast moving, brutal, action filled read. If you enjoy the blood-and-guts style of books then this should satisfy.

As a point of interest the man on the cover holding the rifle is the author, Laurence James.

Monday 5 April 2010

The Trailsman #341

as by Jon Sharpe
Signet, March 2010

The last things Skye Fargo expects to find in the remote Sierra Nevada Mountains are the ramshackle town of Kill Creek – and the mysterious filly of a woman who tries to warn him away. There are deadly doings at work in the town – and a conspiracy of blood that will pit the Trailsman against a cold-blooded gunhand who has never been beaten.

After an exciting escape from a pack of killer dogs Fargo finds himself in what appears to be a ghost town. Here Jon Sharpe (in this case David Robbins) really writes some tense and imagination capturing scenes as a mysterious figure keeps appearing and disappearing seemingly into thin air. This opening to the book grabs the readers’ attention and refuses to let go until Fargo discovers just what is going on in Kill Creek.

The vanishing figure isn’t the only problem Fargo has to face; there’s a group of people who appear to have kidnapped a young woman. Then there’s the girl who warns Fargo away. Another girl who controls the dogs who’d like nothing better than to see them rip The Trailsman to pieces. David Robbins soon has the reader wondering – along with Fargo – just what is going on? How do all these different characters fit together?

It isn’t long before Fargo gets really annoyed at how he’s being treated, and he’s soon filled with a rage that will only be quenched by killing his tormentors. There’s loads of well-described action as Fargo battles to bring an end to the strange events in Kill Creek.

Sierra Six-Guns is another excellent entry into the long-running Trailsman series.

Friday 2 April 2010

Rough Justice

by Jackson Davis
A Black Horse Western from Hale, March 2010

When four officers of the law are slaughtered in a bloody battle with two hillbilly rustlers, US Marshal Heck Thomas and his deputy, Zeke, head for Indian Territory on their trail.

At Fort Smith, Judge Parker is executing criminals, six at a time, and Heck decides that it is time to impose some rough justice of his own. Why, he wonders, does the notorious Belle Starr, with her clan of gun-crazy Cherokees, always escape the noose? Why does the Hanging Judge ride out to a lonesome cabin in the woods and what secret does he hide? Can the Marshal lure Belle and her boys into a trap? Carbines blaze and the body count spirals as Heck and Zeke put their lives on the line to find out.

Rough Justice is a fast moving tale that merges fact with fiction effortlessly. What could have come over as a history lesson doesn’t. Jackson Davis combines both his fictional characters with those that really lived perfectly and tells their story in an entertaining and informative way.

Heck Thomas, “Hanging Judge” Isaac Parker, George Maledon, Frank Dalton (and his brothers are mentioned briefly too), Belle Starr, and Sam Starr are just some of the real people that this story revolves around.

The book is mainly a chase story as Heck Thomas and Zeke attempt to track down a couple of horse thieves before attempting to trap Belle Starr and her gang. The book has plenty of action and humorous touches too, such as Zeke attempting to woo Pearl Starr.

The author also adds a note to explain what happened to the main characters after the events of his story.

For those who enjoy books that combine truth with fiction then this should definitely be on your reading list.

Rough Justice was officially released on March 31st.