Monday 31 January 2011

January Additions

As usual my collection grows faster than I read, and these are the books that I've added during January.


Sunday 30 January 2011

The Highwaymen

By Owen G. Irons
A Black Horse Western from Hale, January 2011

The Chicolote highwayman, notable for his odd habit of returning his ill-gotten gains after terrorizing passengers and stagecoach drivers, had long been responsible for disrupting coach travel and gold shipments along the line.

Now he was dead, or so the story went, but his body was never found and the stick-ups continued as before. Could there be a second man imitating him? Or perhaps more?

The robberies always happened on the same stretch of the same dangerous road, with the same precision. The banks were getting nervous about sending anything of value on the Chicolote and the passengers feared for their safety. Someone had to stop the hold-ups….

It was a job for Laredo.

Owen G. Irons has come up with an excellent plot and read with this story. The action moves along at a very swift pace and I found the book very difficult to put down.

Irons lets the reader in on what is happening, although at first you don’t know the motives behind the robberies. I found it fascinating to discover the reasons behind the hold-ups and why others try to use the legend of the Chicolate highwayman for their own gain. All these different wannabe robbers making this a difficult case for the hero, Laredo, to crack. Just when he thinks he’s solved the problem the Chicolate highwayman strikes again…

Not all the highwaymen are bad people, although a couple sure are, some are forced into trying their hand at robbery as they see no other answer to their problems. This is something Laredo recognizes and it was interesting to see the different ways he dealt with them when he finally caught up with them.

Owen G. Irons is a pseudonym used by Paul Lederer and he has once more come out with a very entertaining story with The Highwaymen, one that has me looking forward to his next release. As it happens I don’t have to wait until the next Owen G. Irons book hits the shelves, as Paul Lederer has a second BHW released this month too, The Tanglewood Desperadoes as by Logan Winters.

Saturday 29 January 2011

Duel at Del Norte

By Ethan Flagg
A Black Horse Western from Hale, January 2011

Russ Wikeley settles in the boom town of Del Norte, South Dakota, hoping to erase the memory of a sordid past, and after foiling a bank robbery he is persuaded to stand for sheriff in the forthcoming elections. However, a scheming gang boss by the name of Diamond Jim Stoner wants his own man to become sheriff and when he discovers Russ’s secret he is quick to spill the truth.

Stoner’s plan backfires but he is not prepared to give up that easily. Not to be thwarted in his plan to take over the town, Stoner hatches a new scheme to frame his adversary for robbery and murder.

Will Stoner’s dastardly plan succeed? And is Russ prepared to lie down and play dead? Both men are full of determination…but only one can be the victor in the final duel on the streets of Del Norte.

Like the previous book I read by this author this one reinforces my belief that he likes giving his characters colourful names. Here we get Blackfoot Reno, The Kansas Kid, Cimarron Charley, The Sagebrush Kid, and so it goes on.

The book is very readable, and Flagg crams a lot in. Time passes very quickly – in some cases months fly by in a couple of paragraphs, meaning you have to pay attention or you could find yourself wondering how things progressed so far in only a matter of pages.

Some of the situations Wikeley finds himself in are a little predictable, such the time he spends in prison but having said that the story is entertaining. Flagg also throws in a couple of surprises, mainly to do with the woman who he’s dating at the beginning, as readers of BHW would expect them to end up marrying at the end.

The book should now be available from the usual Internet sources even though it isn’t officially released until the last day of the month.

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Gringos #5

By J.D. Sandon
Mayflower, 1979

Zacatecas was the stumbling block that barred Pancho Villa’s advance on Mexico City. The Federale garrison was fighting his bandit army to a standstill. But word came of howitzers stored in Tampico, and Villa called on the four men he trusted most to bring him guns – The Gringos.

What they didn’t know was that the whole deal was a trap – an elaborate plan to destroy them. And when the jaws swung shut, they were left to escape the way they knew best…by fighting clear!

Gringos is one of the series to come from the British group of writes known today as the Piccadilly Cowboys. In this case the pseudonym of J.D. Sandon being shared by Angus Wells and John Harvey, the former being the author behind this book. The series ran for ten books.

So just who are the Gringos?
Cade Onslow: US Army Major. Deserter, with nothing to gain but vengeance.
Jonas Strong: Top Sergeant, damned by his colour.
Yates McCloud: Rapist. Nowhere to go but hell.
Jamie Durham: The needle of morphine was the only answer to his ruined face.
Four men with nothing left to lose but their lives. And they didn’t count for much in the bloody fury of rebellion.

This entry into the series finally reveals the identity of the man who has been pursuing the Gringos throughout the series, making this a not to be missed book for followers of series.

Even though the Gringos begin to suspect all is not as it seems they still ride into the trap set for them. On their journey they gather a group of bandits together to help with their task of stealing the howitzers. Their trail to Tampico proves to be a dangerous and very bloody path. In fact almost from the word go this book seems to be one very violent struggle until its end.

Angus Wells includes a superbly written, and very visual, escape from Tampico aboard a train which doesn’t go quite according to plan and sees one of them fall into the hands of enemy. This allows Wells to add some brutal torture scenes to the story before the other Gringos fight their way in to free the captive, and then blast their way out again.

Wells also manages to further develop the relationship between the four men, especially that of Strong and McCloud, the latter being a Southerner who doesn’t particularly like riding alongside a man of colour.

Wells adds a neat twist to the end of the story that leaves a question mark over the worth of the mission and the cost in human life.

If you’ve enjoyed other series written by the Piccadilly Cowboys then I’d think you should enjoy this series too, even though it is set in a time period a little later than many might consider a true western.

Saturday 22 January 2011

Interview: Steve Hockensmith

Today we’ve got a change of pace for you: an interview with Steve Hockensmith, creator of the “Holmes on the Range” mystery/Westerns. And Steve’s not the only special guest here, because he’s being interviewed by one of the stars of his series, Otto “Big Red” Amlingmeyer. Big Red and his brother Gustav (a.k.a. “Old Red”) are former cowboys who roam the 19th century West solving mysteries in the style of their hero, Sherlock Holmes. They’ve starred in five novels, the latest of which, World’s Greatest Sleuth!, came out January 18. We supplied Big Red with a list of questions for Steve but left it up to him to conduct the interview as he pleased.

Big Red: Let’s see. “When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?” it says here.

Hockensmith: Oh, that’s something I always knew. I started creating my own little comic books and fiction magazines around the time I was 11, and in high school I got serious about journalism, which eventually became my college major and my first career. But I didn’t try to sell fiction professionally until --

Big Red: [flutters eyelids, feigns snoring]

Hockensmith: Hey, you asked.

Big Red: Yeah. To be polite. If I’d known your answer was going to be so danged boring, though, I would’ve brought my bedroll with me.

Hockensmith: Why don’t you just move on to the next question then?

Big Red: Alrighty. Let’s see. “Did anyone encourage you to be a writer, and if so…?” You know what? I’m skipping that one.

Hockensmith: Why?

Big Red: I want to save it for tonight. In case I have trouble falling asleep. I figure your answer’d have me sawing logs within seconds.

Hockensmith: Look, if you’re just going to be insulting, we’ll find someone else to --

Big Red: Wait wait wait, now! Hold on! This next question I want to ask you in all seriousness, alright? I would really, truly like to hear your answer.

Hockensmith: [warily] O.K.

Big Red: “Which writers influence you?”

Hockensmith: [opens mouth]

Big Red: Cuz I know what better be the first name outta your mouth.

Hockensmith: [muttering under breath] Here we go.

Big Red: I do all the work Watsoning for my brother, writing up our adventures and sending ’em off to be published. But then when they end up in print, somehow they’ve got your name on ’em. And me -- I ain’t the author anymore. Oh, no! I’m just the narrator.

Hockensmith: We’ve been through this before. You’re fictional.

Big Red: You remember how “fictional” it feels when my boot meets your backside?

Hockensmith: The writer who has influenced me most is the great Otto Amlingmeyer! He makes Mark Twain and William Shakespeare look like half-witted children scribbling on the sidewalk with chalk! I myself only know the alphabet up to j! I am nothing! Otto Amlingmeyer is like unto a god! All hail Otto! I can but bow down before him and lick his boots!

Big Red: Please don’t lick my boots.

Hockensmith: Well, are you satisfied now? Was that effusive enough for you?

Big Red: [muses] Yes. Next question --

Hockensmith: Thank god.

Big Red: “How much importance do you place on research?”

Hockensmith: You’re going to let me answer? Without interrupting?

Big Red: Absolutely. I said my piece.

Hockensmith: O.K., then. Good. So. Research. I place a lot of importance on it, actually. It’s always the second step in the process for me. The first is deciding on a setting. Once I’ve got that, I do a ton of research, and the plot grows out of what I learn. I’ll give you an example. While sifting through background material for my first novel, Holmes on the Range, I learned that European aristocracy once owned more than half the range land in the West. That led to a brainstorm: What if some of those hoity-toity titled types came out to Montana to inspect their property…and what if they’d known Sherlock Holmes? That allowed me to weave elements from the Arthur Conan Doyle story “The Noble Bachelor” into my own story set on a cattle ranch. The latest book, World’s Greatest Sleuth!, takes place at the Columbian Exposition -- the 1893 world’s fair in Chicago -- and that required weeks and weeks of reading and web-surfing to get a handle on, because the setting is so specific and so spectacular. It was a big challenge to bring that to life. But a fun challenge.

Big Red: You wanna know how I do research?

Hockensmith: I can guess.

Big Red: I remember. No reading or “web-smurfing” needed. Cuz, you know, it happened to me. That comes in right handy when spinning a yarn. You got no call to put your brand on someone else’s stories that way.

Hockensmith: Could we get to the next question, please?

Big Red: What? You’re not enjoying yourself?

Hockensmith: [through gritted teeth] I’m having a ball.

Big Red: Me, too! Now let’s see -- here’s a good one. “You seem to find humour in many situations. Are there any themes you’d avoid including in your stories as you don’t think they suit a humorous approach?”

Hockensmith: That is a good question. I guess there are a few subjects that would be hard to handle with a light touch. In the “Holmes on the Range” series, I’ve acknowledged the pervasiveness of casual racism in 19th century society, and in the first book the “n word” even gets bandied about a couple times. That really pissed some readers off, and even though I was just trying to be true to the times I’d think twice about using such language again. And certainly there’s nothing funny about lynchings or the treatment of Native Americans. Prostitution plays an important role in both the third and fourth books, and I tried to handle that in a humane, heartfelt way, too. Saloon “chippies” are often thrown in as simple props or clich├ęs, and I didn’t want to do that. Those women endured horrific abuse and degradation, and that shaded how I wrote the prostitute characters in my books. I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve, though. There’s no preaching. First and foremost, the books are supposed to be fun.

Big Red: Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Hockensmith: Thank you.

Big Red: In fact, it makes me wonder if I did say all that somewhere. I’m not entirely certain you could come up with it yourself.

Hockensmith: [sighs]

Big Red: Moving on. “How many short stories are there featuring the Amlingmeyer brothers, and where can they be found?”

Hockensmith: There have been seven short stories about the guys. Six of them originally appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and the seventh was in the recent anthology Ghost Towns. The first, “Dear Mr. Holmes,” is available as a free download on my website. Here’s a link. Two of the others have appeared in year-end “best of” collections: “Gustav Amlingmeyer, Holmes of the Range” was in Wolf Woman Bay and 9 More of the Finest Crime and Mystery Novellas of the Year, while “The Devil’s Acre” was reprinted in Between the Dark and the Daylight and 27 More of the Best Crime and Mystery Stories of the Year. One of these days, I’m going to do an ebook collecting all seven stories, but I can’t say when I’ll get around to it.

Big Red: An “ebook”?

Hockensmith: Yeah. It’s…you know, maybe we’d better just move along to the next question.

Big Red: [yawns] Fine by me. That last answer of yours made me awful drowsy again, and I’d sure like to get some coffee.

Hockensmith: [glowers, spins hands in the air]

Big Red: “Some of the ‘Holmes on the Range’ book covers seem to portray them as Westerns and others seem to give them the look of historical crime novels. Why the difference?”

Hockensmith: There are two things at work there. (1) You’ve got the marketing department trying to figure out how the heck to sell these things. (2) Two of the books -- The Black Dove and World’s Greatest Sleuth! -- take place in big cities, so the Western approach wouldn’t have been appropriate. The other three books are much more Westerny: Holmes on the Range takes place on a Montana ranch, On the Wrong Track is set on a train travelling through the Sierra Nevadas and The Crack in the Lens takes place in the Texas Hill Country. First and foremost, though, all the books are historical mysteries. That’s their structure. Collecting clues and solving puzzles is what they’re about. There just happens to be enough Old West flavor and action to qualify most of them as Westerns, too. 

Big Red: I like to think Old Red and I West-up any place we happen to go.

Hockensmith: That’s true. The cowboy outlook comes through no matter what setting you’re in.

Big Red: Alright, last question or I’m gonna have to nail my eyelids open.

Hockensmith: [rolls eyes] Yeah, it’s been a delight chatting with you, too.

Big Red: “Are you a fan of Westerns, and if so do you have any favourites in books and films?”

Hockensmith: Oh, yeah! I love a good Western. My dad’s to thank for that. When I was a kid, if there was a Western on TV, dad was watching it. (He’s also a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, so he can take credit for my whole publishing career.) My favorite Western films are probably Little Big Man and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but I’m also very, very fond of the more traditional Westerns that were coming out of Hollywood in the ’50s and ’60s. Rio Bravo, Shane, The Big Country, The Tall T, Bend of the River, Ride the High Country -- those are all favorites of mine. I’m not as well-versed in Western books, but Thomas Berger’s Little Big Man had a huge impact on me, and I recently read and loved Charles Portis’s True Grit. (I think both film versions are pretty great, as well.) Cottonwood, by the noir writer Scott Phillips, is a wonderfully odd gothic Western, and of course Elmore Leonard’s Western books are dynamite. I’ve also sampled Westerns by American crime writers like Ed Gorman, Bill Crider, Bill Pronzini, Loren Estleman and Bob Randisi, and it’s all fun stuff indeed. Unfortunately, I read really slowly, so I haven’t sampled any genre as widely as I’d like. But one day I hope to --

Big Red: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Hockensmith: Alright, I’m leaving.

Friday 21 January 2011

Bear Creek

By Jack Edwards
A Black Horse Western from Hale, January 2011

Ben Tobin had ridden for Wells Fargo for two hard years. He’d chased after no-goods riding the owl-hoot trail, survived shoot-outs, and slept beneath the stars more times than he cared to remember. But then his partner was badly wounded and Tobin decided to call time on his riding days. However, when his old partner looks him up to ask for his help, it’s a request he can’t ignore.

Now, he finds himself riding into trouble once again. Short-trigger men stalk the alleyways of Bear Creek. Powerful ranchers are playing a dangerous game, calculating there is big money for the taking. Hired killers target Tobin and he’ll need all his old skills with his Navy Colt to survive….

Jack Edwardes is a new author to me, and Bear Creek is his seventh Black Horse Western. I’ve seen other reviews of this writer's work, which have always held his work in high esteem, so I’ve always wanted to read one his books.

This story begins with Tobin rescuing a young woman from two men so it seems he’s the good guy, but moments later Edwardes springs a surprise or two which reveals Tobin to be a wanted outlaw, and he’s soon in jail. It’s not long before the life of Tobin turns to another twist, making me wonder just which side of the law he really lives on?

Who Tobin really is isn’t the only mystery Edwardes includes. Why has one of the rancher’s ordered fifty Winchesters? This becomes even stranger when the rancher denies all knowledge of buying these weapons. Then there’s the small army of outlaws camped outside of town, why are they here? So, Edwardes works in plenty of questions to keep the readers attention.

The book is filled with well-drawn characters, good dialogue, and excellent descriptions of landscape and action. The story moves forward at a swift pace and you soon have to wonder what is going on as Tobin and his posse fall for a bluff, which shows the outlaws to be one step ahead of him.

Jack Edwardes finishes his story with a spectacular battle within the streets of Bear Creek, which sees a Gatling gun brought into play. This provided a very visual conclusion to the book, which sees all questions finally answered, and left me looking forward to reading another book by this writer.

Bear Creek is officially released at the end of this month, but should be available now from the usual Internet sources.

Thursday 20 January 2011

Longarm UK covers

I've often been asked by American readers of the Longarm series what the covers look like for the first twelve books published here in the UK, so here they are. 

As you can see they have totally new artwork. What I've always liked is how Long's head rotates rather than staying in profile as on the American covers. 

The first appeared in UK bookshops in 1979 and the last in 1982. Why the publisher, Methuen, stopped publishing them I don't know.

The cover illustrations were done by Stuart Bodek.

Click on the image to see them much bigger.

Wednesday 19 January 2011

The Trailsman #351

By Jon Sharpe
Signet, January 2011

The Smoky Mountains, 1861 – where strangers who aren’t careful wind up six feet under.

Nestled deep in the Smoky Mountains, the town of Promise claims to be the “cleanest little town west of the Mississippi.” But in this case, cleanliness is far from goodliness. Promise is a place where people who step out of line in the slightest pay to the fullest – and those who can’t pay with cash pay with their lives. But the Trailsman pays with hot lead….

Having read the blurb you just know the Trailsman is going to fall foul of the many laws of Promise, and sure enough he does, and as he discovers more and more craziness within the town, so his anger begins to rise to boiling point.

The book is filled with a cast of terrific characters, from Marshal Travers and Susan Brubaker, to Mayor Bascomb and the Utley family. But for me the most memorable had to be the two young lovers, Joan and Troy, who are attempting to elope to Oregon. In fact it’s around these two runaways that most of the plot revolves.

As expected from a Trailsman book this story moves forward at a tremendous pace and is filled with action. Mixed into all the violence are a few humorous incidents and a lot of sarcastic comments, usually voiced by the Trailsman.

As Skye Fargo’s anger mounts we see the emergence of his darker, tougher side as he decides to stop the guilty dead in their tracks. But it’s not only Fargo who shows his more brutal side, as the author (in this case David Robbins writing as Jon Sharpe) has a surprise or two waiting to be revealed later in the tale, as one of the characters says, “you have yet to see the real me.” This statement providing a shocking and savage twist to the end of this exciting read.

Fans of the Trailsman series should make sure they don’t miss this one.

Monday 17 January 2011

Ambush at Lakota Crossing

By Terrell L. Bowers
A Black Horse Western from Hale, January 2011

Lakota Crossing was manned by two old codgers and was fifty miles from the nearest town. It had always been the perfect place for an ambush. But when Wayland Lott and his gang of killers planned to rob an army payroll at its way station, they had no idea that one of those men had a bounty hunter on his trail.

Bounty hunting was not the sort of life Jess Logan had expected after the war. He’d had a bit of luck and even earned a reputation, but his luck ran out in Missouri when he ran into the worst blizzard on record. So Logan took a job at the stage stop at Lakota Crossing to finish the out the winter there…and when the bandit gang began warring, Jess jumped straight into the action, regardless of the consequences….

Terrell L. Bowers starts this story by having Jess Logan help rescue a group of Indian women and children from freezing to death in one of the worst snowstorms in history. Logan is rewarded for his bravery by the band’s chief by being given a young woman to do with as he wishes. This leads to many humorous moments, as Logan sure doesn’t want to be responsible for Pale Flower. It seems the Indians are glad to be rid of her as she’s seen to be bad luck. As the story progresses Bowers begins to hint that Pale Flower may not be all she seems, and when she attacks a white man with a shovel more questions arise that help hook the reader into story.

There’s not a lot of gun-action in the first half of the book but this is were Bowers expertly pulls the reader into the story, introduces his cast of well-drawn characters and has you believing that Logan is more than a match for the outlaws. Unbeknown to both reader and hero the outlaws have an ace-in-the-hole that will prove to be a surprising problem that could easily see the outlaws steal the army payroll without any difficulty. The second half of the tale is nearly all action as the outlaws take over Lakota Crossing and their ambush is set.

Of course good triumphs over bad in the end as is the case in just about every BHW I’ve read, and here Terrell L. Bowers brings this about in a fast moving and entertaining tale – the first part of which is based around a true incident.

Ambush at Lakota Crossing has an official release date of the end of the month but is available now from a number of Internet bookstores.

Thursday 13 January 2011


It could be a few days before there are any new posts on the blog due to my computer having a hard-drive failure. Once sorted everything will return to normal. Steve.

Saturday 8 January 2011

Long Ride into Hell

As by Daniel Rockfern
A Black Horse Western from Hale, 2005

When Hugo Lyedekker, along with other fugitives from the Yuma Territorial Prison, held up a passenger train in Arizona he hadn’t realized he was about to hit the jackpot. For aboard the train were a number of high-level VIPs including the Attorney-General, senators and Supreme Court judges.

Seeing his chance to demand a large ransom and a pardon, Lyedekker sends word to the President himself in Washington. But this proves to be his first big mistake for Frank Angel is given the mission to bring back the hostages alive – by whatever means necessary and with no questions asked!

Before long, the Maricopas mountains will run red with blood…

First published way back in 1978 in Germany only it had long been thought this book would never be published in English. Frederick Nolan, whom this version is credited to, even though Mike Linaker wrote the book, discovered the manuscript and submitted it to Hale so it is now available for fans of the Angel series to read at last. The original Angel series ran for nine books, all written by Fred Nolan as Frederick H. Christian and Mike stepped in to write a further five for the German market. Only one other of the latter has been published in English and my review of it can be found here.

Mike Linaker’s descriptions of landscape, heat, dust and fear are excellent. The action sequences are superbly portrayed and are very graphic at times. Angel’s race to save the VIPs is frantic and tense. 

Among those kidnapped is Amabel Rowe, the Attorney-General’s secretary, whom it has often been implied throughout the series is someone Angel has a soft-spot for, and it is she who has many of the best lines in my opinion – her quick sarcastic tongue often having me laughing out loud, although it nearly brings about her death too.

The threat to Amabel’s life brings out the best (or should that be worst?) in Angel, and at times he is shown to be just as savage as any of the men he is intent on bringing to justice. The final fight between Lyedekker and Angel showing just how brutal he can be.

For fans of Mike Linaker’s work, the Angel series, or just fast moving blood-drenched westerns then this book is definitely worth tracking down.

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Texas Horse Trading Co. #3

By Gene Shelton
Jove, November 1994

Business is booming for the Texas Horse Trading Co., and the unlikely partnership between the Yankee gent Dave Willoughby and Brubs McCallan the Rebel is paying off in spades. But when a wealthy rancher hires the boys to deliver as many mares as they can round up, their luck runs out – they run smack into the Comanche. It doesn’t take a genius to know they’re the shrewdest – and deadliest – horse thieves in the West, or that they aim to steal the stolen horses for themselves.

It’s gonna be one hell of a week…

Gene Shelton once again produces a fast moving mix of traditional western and humour. Willoughby and McCallan being a very likeable duo, whose banter often raised a smile and laughter from this reader. Their antics get them into all kinds of scrapes that often require fast-talking to stop them ending up swinging from a rope or taking a bullet or two.

The book is filled with a wealth of excellent characters, some of whom readers of the previous two books will have met before such as the Texas Rangers. This story sees our two heroes gather a handful of people around them to help drive their horses to their destination, each of these misfits adding their own problems to the drive. Without a doubt Granny Hooper is the most memorable and has most of the best lines. Her insistence of taking her goats along with her allows for many funny scenes and also provides some of the saddest moments too.

There’s plenty of action of the kind you’d expect in a book about a trail drive, but it’s how Willoughby and McCallan solve the problems that befall them that keeps this story fresh and exciting.

And just when you think you know how the story will finish Gene Shelton introduces a couple more characters who provide a neat twist to the books end, leaving me looking forward to reading the next in the series.

Sunday 2 January 2011

Wild West eMonday

Tomorrow, Monday January 3rd, is Wild West eMonday.

Like Wild West Mondays of the past this event is an attempt to gain more recognition for westerns by making publishers and booksellers aware there is a demand for western fiction. What is being asked is that all fans of western fiction buy a western ebook on this date.

Ebooks are fast growing in popularity and there are many westerns to choose from. There are classic westerns now available in electronic form, there are new authors to choose from, and new stories available from established authors. Many ebook versions are cheaper than the paper books too.

I review quite a few Black Horse Westerns here, and these a quite expensive to buy. The price on the books now is £13.25. Very shortly it’ll be possible to buy four of these books as an ebook bundle for £10.00 - four for less than the price of one book, and no shipping charges either.

Ebooks have allowed old books to be re-published. No longer will you have to search the second-hand bookstores for an old tatty, creased and yellowed copy of a book you’ve long wanted. You’ll be able to store an entire series – in fact many, many series – on one handheld device that weighs less than a single paperback book. The recently launched ebook version of the classic first book in the Edge series is now available for instance, and if it sells well enough could see the entire series of 61 books come out in this form.

As I said above there are new books only available as ebooks. With Dorchester switching to ebooks rather than paper, the only way to read new books from their authors is in electronic form. Books such as the fourth book in Robert Randisi’s Lancaster series, Crow Bait, and the 65th book in David Thompson’s Wilderness series, Seed of Evil, for example.

Then there’s the new Rancho Diablo series by Colby Jackson – a pseudonym shared by Mel Odom, James Reasoner and Bill Crider – the second book having just been released. 

Westerns which cross genres are now becoming more readily available too, such as Peter Brandvold’s Bad Wind Blowing – which sees the dead coming back to life, came out in December 2010. (Expect a review of this here soon)

So please take a few minutes tomorrow to search through the many western ebooks available and spend a few pounds or dollars on supporting this event and help keep the western fiction genre alive.

Wild West eMonday is spearheaded by Gary at the Tainted Archive, there you will be able to find more details, along with many western related posts, including a free ebook, articles and interviews. You will also be able to read a new short story, Melanie, by Edward A. Grainger, which sees the return of Marshal Cash Laramie…

By Edward A. Grainger

This is a hard-hitting tale that deals with child abuse. It also highlights the frustrations of the law not being able to intervene in life within a person’s own home, no matter how bad this is. In fact Marshal Cash Laramie finds himself in trouble for attempting to help the young girl of the title, Melanie.

Edward A. Grainger has written a tale that will stick with the reader for a long time. Characterization is handled well within such a short story, easily making the reader feel emotionally attached to them, be that wanting Laramie to find a solution to the problem, feel anger at the law and hate towards Clem Stewart.

There’s also some excellent tension towards the end as Melaine searches for her uncle in the dark, fearing what could be lurking out there, and what her uncle’s reaction to her might be. The end is well crafted and offers a neat surprise.

Melaine is well worth taking the time to read.

Edward A. Grainger is a pseudonym used by David Cranmer, editor of Beat to a Pulp. His first Laramie story, Cash Laramie and the Masked Devil, can be found in the western anthology A Fistful of Legends.