Wednesday 29 June 2011

Lonesome Range

By Tyler Hatch
A Black Horse Western from Hale, June 2011

He had many names – but only one told who he really was – the fastest gun in Texas, Colorado or just about anywhere. Sometimes he was recognized, no matter what the name and then the challengers would come, guns would blaze and he’d ride away from yet another dead man.

Then came the day where he’d killed one too many and the fastest gun had to swap his colt for a sledge on the rockpile – for ten long years.

He wasn’t ready to give up just yet though – and when a chance for freedom came along, he was prepared to grab it with both hands….

The above blurb has all taken place before the beginning of this book, and the reader meets the man as he struggles to survive a desert crossing. It’s here he finds himself siding a small rancher against a much larger one. Even though the story has a backdrop of a range war the main plot is about the identity of the man, and once this is found out it’s how he deals with more people gunning for him. The mystery gunman having to not only deal with the land-hungry rancher, but treachery from his own side, and a vengeance hungry daughter of one of the men he killed a long time ago.

The story is extremely fast paced and packed with action that is quite brutal at times. The odds against the survival of the man makes for gripping reading and you have to wonder if this is one anti-hero that won’t be alive by the books end.

Having read many books by this author – Tyler Hatch being one of a number of pseudonyms used by Keith Hetherington – I knew I’d be in for a cracking read and that’s exactly what I got. If you’ve never read one of Keith’s many books then this could be a great place to introduce yourself to this writer’s talents.

Lonesome Range is officially released tomorrow but is already for sale at the usual Internet bookstores.

Monday 27 June 2011

Trailsman #356

By Jon Sharpe
Signet, June 2011

The Northern Rockies, 1861 – where fang and claw make a feast of human flesh.

Skye Fargo has faced killers of every shape and size. But when a monstrous grizzly outside Gold Creek starts splitting people’s skulls and feasting on the gray matter, Fargo finds himself pitted against a bloodthirsty beast that has already slaughtered and devoured everyone who tried to hunt it down. And the Trailsman might be next on the menu.

Unlike the majority of Trailsman books, this one sees Skye Fargo pitted against a foe that isn’t human. Yes there are one or two humans to deal with, as there is competition with others eager to claim the bounty for being the person who kills the grizzly known as Brain Eater, but the book is mainly about the hunt for this creature.

Fargo teams up with a great group of people, each being a superb character in their own rights, none of which this reader wanted to see die, yet this being a Trailsman book some, if not all, would surely fall prey to the grizzly wouldn’t they?

Having such a dangerous, and hard to kill, creature stalking its hunters, makes for some tense and breath-holding scenes. This definitely ensures the reader won’t be putting the book down before these gripping sequences are played out.

Descriptions paint vivid images within the mind, be they of the landscape these deadly games of death take place in, or the graphic accounts of the grizzly’s killings.

To balance the more horrific elements of the tale, the author, David Robbins writing as Jon Sharpe, includes some humour, mainly through dialogue, that at times had me laughing out loud.

So, once more, we have a well-told, fast moving, action-packed, Trailsman story in Grizzly Fury, and as I’ve said the theme of this tale makes it that little bit different from other entries in this long running series.

Wyoming Double-Cross

By J.D. Kincaid
A Black Horse Western from Hale, June 2011

When the notorious Blair Wilton and his gang of outlaws decide to raid the bank at Medicine Bow, they send in Chicago confidence trickster Paul Springer to reconnoitre the town. Here a chance encounter with an old acquaintance from the windy city causes Springer to change his plans suddenly.

To add to the outlaws’ woes, Jack Stone, the famous Kentuckian gunfighter, enters into the fray and goes up against Wilton and his gang.

Will it be Stone or Wilton who survives the final, deadly confrontation?

This is the latest adventure in J.D. Kincaid’s popular series featuring gunfighter Jack Stone. I’m not sure if all the books put out under the J.D. Kincaid pseudonym are Stone stories, but the majority are.

Like the previous Stone book I read the gunfighter doesn’t actually appear in the story for quite a while, and once he does it’s only for brief moments until the last fourth of the story. J.D. Kincaid uses the rest of the book to outline his plot, introduce his well- crafted characters and develop the relationships between them all.

Springer is a great character, one who will have you guessing as to just what his intentions are, it’s his plans that the title comes from, but he’s not the only one who is planning a double-cross. Another memorable character is Kid Sawyer who first appears in chapter one and then isn’t mentioned for a long time, yet he remains in the readers mind, and the author makes you wait before re-introducing him again.

J.D. Kincaid’s books are easy, fast reads, full of action, that leave me looking forward to the next. The authors’ real name is James C. Dalgleish, but whether he writes under any other pseudonyms I have no idea.

Wyoming Double-Cross is officially released on June 30th, but is available now from the usual Internet bookstores.

Shotgun Messenger

By Colin Bainbridge
A Black Horse Western from Hale, June 2011

The outlaw’s first mistake was shooting the dog. That dog belonged to Rhett Coulter and he wasn’t a man to mess with, as Lorne Roberts and his gang of gunslicks would soon discover.

Meanwhile, Coulter’s friend’s ranch, the Block H, is burned down and his woman barely escapes with her life. Now he has another reason to want to put Roberts out of business, quite apart from the little matter of his hoard of stolen bullion.

As Coulter fights against overwhelming odds, events hurtle along like a runaway stagecoach towards the final, blistering showdown….

If it’s a book packed with action you want then you need look no further than Colin Bainbridge’s third Black Horse Western. The story seems to be pretty much one exchange of gunfire, or fists, after another. This is all interspersed with the good guys attempting to second-guess the next moves of the bad guys, including trying to work out their motives. The latter leading to many questions such as are there more than one band of outlaws at work here, and just who is the mysterious Reber – an outlaw leader people have heard about but never seen? So the book contains plenty of mystery within its fast moving plot too.

Colin Bainbridge writes long chapters, this book having only six. Descriptions of landscapes, buildings, and people are sparse and to the point. There isn’t any bad language as far as I remember.

Shotgun Messenger is an entertaining read that is officially released at the end of the month but is available now from the usual Internet bookstores.

Monday 20 June 2011

Cotton's War

By Phil Dunlap
Berkley, June 2011

As sheriff of Catron County in New Mexico Territory, Cotton Burke has put his life on the line against some of the West’s most unrepentant outlaws. Like Virgil Cruz – who’s kidnapped the woman Cotton loves and threatens to kill her should the lawman attempt to interfere with his gang’s schemes.

Memphis Jack Stump used to wear a badge and uphold justice until one drink too many cost him his job – and his friendship with Cotton. But he’s the only man Cotton trusts enough to infiltrate Cruz’s gang as a hired gun and help take them down from the inside before the bandit enacts a terrible revenge…

In some ways this is an old-fashioned traditional western, but that is not a criticism. In fact some readers will welcome this, as the book contains very little bad language, no explicit sex or graphic violence of the kind that can be found in many other westerns being written today.

Cotton’s War is billed as the first in a new series (the second book, Cotton’s Law, is due out in January 2012) so it seems as if Sheriff Cotton Burke is the main hero of the books, but in this one he plays more of a secondary role, being used to set events in motion and as a link between various characters. The lead is taken by Jack Stump, and he makes for a very memorable reluctant hero, one I hope will return in further books.

Phil Dunlap tells his story from the viewpoints of a variety of characters, moving from one to another chapter by chapter or scene by scene, that often end with a cliff-hanger, ensuring the book is difficult to put down before the end is reached. This makes for a fast flowing story that keeps the reader gripped with the need to know what happens next.

Phil Dunlap is a new author to me, even though he has had a number of westerns published by Avalon and one or two by Leisure, and this book has left me wanting to check out his other work whilst patiently waiting for the publication of Cotton’s Law.

Sunday 19 June 2011

Ace High in Wilderness

By Rob Hill
A Black Horse Western from Hale, June 2011

It has been seven years since the Civil War ended. Ex-sharpshooter John Wright has tried to forget the horrors of his incarceration in the Confederate POW camp at Andersonville, where he watched, powerless, as one of the guards murdered his childhood friend.

Now, two ex-prisoners show up, telling John they have tracked down the murderous prison guard and need help bringing him in. They offer John a share of the reward. But all is not as it seems and John is about to find out that the road to justice is rocky indeed….

Rob Hill sure packs a lot into this book, each chapter seeming to add more problems for his hero to overcome. As well as the opportunity for revenge against the prison guard, there’s a bank robbery, a crooked sheriff, John’s woman’s ex-husband wanting his son, a jailbreak, a Sioux uprising, a town waiting to be massacred by the Indians, the army trying to keep a tight rein on everything, and a few other story threads too.

The story switches from one set of characters to another seamlessly, often leaving them with a problem to face, ensuring the reader keeps turning the pages. One can’t help but wonder how Wright can possibly come out of this in one piece and on the right side of the law, or even if he’ll be alive at the end.

As soon as you think you know how the story will turn out, Rob Hill adds another twist into his fast paced, action-packed tale, meaning his latest book is another gripping read. Once more leaving me looking forward to his next one.

Ace High in Wilderness is officially released on June 30th, but it is already available through the usual Internet sources.

Thursday 16 June 2011

How many do you know?

How many of these actors or characters do you recognize?
Great song too, imho.

Sunday 12 June 2011

Rancho Diablo #1

By Colby Jackson
An ebook, October 2010

Army Scout Sam Blaylock rode into the small Texas town of Shooter’s Cross looking for deserters, not trouble.

While up in the mountains, he discovered a wilderness plagued by nature and haunted by superstition, but one that he thought he could tame with his experience and strong back.

He didn’t know he was going to have to kill to keep the home he planned for his family, but he didn’t let that stop him. Sam had been looking for a home for his family for years. That search had been interrupted by the Civil War.

Now Sam is putting down roots, and not even the Devil himself can stand in the way.

This really is a top class read and a great introduction to the Rancho Diablo series. It sets the scene superbly and introduces the reader to a great set of characters. The background to the town of Shooter’s Cross and that of York Peak makes for compelling reading that forces the reader to continue to see how Blaylock can tame the wilderness he hopes to build his new home upon.

Of course it isn’t just the land, with its sulphurous waters he has to deal with. There are those who want to steal his money and those who wonder what hidden treasures the land may hold, men who will do anything to take this for their own. How Blacklock deals with these men provides action packed reading with a terrific and well described fight towards the end.

Colby Jackson knows how to pace a book, people it with characters you’ll want to read more about, no matter which side of the law they ride on. He provides some fascinating information on how Blaylock solves the problems of the land. He also includes many moments of humour such as the reasons Blaylock buys certain items and is blasting a cave.

Once finished I found myself eager to see what new challenges await these memorable characters and as it happens I can find out now as there are already two more books available in this series, and a fourth due to be released sometime this month.

There is also a spinoff series planned, the first of which should appear this autumn and is called Shooter York: about the man who gave Shooter’s Cross its name.

Colby Jackson is a pseudonym shared by Mel Odom, James Reasoner, and Bill Crider, this first book being written by Mel.

Shooter's Cross is available as both a paperback and an ebook.

Friday 10 June 2011

Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles

By Edward A. Grainger
An eBook, June 2011

This excellent collection of short stories is released today and, even though you may have read a couple of them already elsewhere, this is well worth adding to your library.

The Wind Scorpion
Kid Eddie
Miles to Go
The Bone Orchard Mystery
Under the Sun
The Outlaw Marshal

These stories offer a mix of the traditional western, although the two men of the title aren’t exactly clean-cut heroes, both are willing to bend the law somewhat to complete their objectives in a way that sees justice handed out according to their beliefs, and those that explore the darker side of Cash Larmaie, such as the final story in this collection. Some of these stories explore problems that still exist today; just read Melanie to discover what I mean – in fact you can read more of my thoughts on this particular tale here.

Edward A. Grainger also includes mystery elements and neat twists that hook the reader and make the book difficult to put down. The Bone Orchard Mystery is a fine example of this; I doubt any reader could put this story aside before finding out what is going on after reading the eerie opening scene.

Under the Sun was co-written with Sandra Seamans, and has a slightly different approach to the other stories in that Laramie and Miles are on the sidelines for most of the tale.

The collection also contains some well-done artwork to illustrate a number of the stories.

As I said at the beginning, this really is a eBook that should be in every western fans collection. Edward A. Grainger (real name David Cranmer) definitely knows how to write gripping and fast moving adventures filled with memorable characters that I’d like read more about someday.

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Six-Gun Samurai #3

as by Patrick Lee
Pinnacle, April 1981

An American, raised since childhood in the land of the Shogun and trained as a warrior knight in Japan, Tanaka Tom Fletcher is bound by the Samurai code of the Bushido to a bloody vendetta against the Yankee marauders who slaughtered his family in Georgia. He must carry out his mission to its ultimate conclusion – the destruction of his enemies or himself.

Now Tanaka Tom Fletcher’s quest for vengeance has led him to San Francisco, where an agent of his archenemy, Colonel Hollister, is running for mayor. The Six-Gun Samurai intends to terminate his campaign before it gets to the ballot box….

But Fletcher doesn’t foresee the violent power struggle between the forces of the corrupt politicians and the ruthless blue dragon tong society. It’s a Samurai showdown as Fletcher finds himself in the middle of two warring factions – and both sides want him dead.

This is a very fast moving book that reads like a spaghetti western, only that the hero is a white man trained as a Samurai who lives by their ideals. His quest for vengeance continues through all nine books in the series. For some reason the final three books had a series title change to Six-Gun Warrior. Perhaps someone out there knows why this happened?

Patrick Lee is a pseudonym shared by three different authors, Mark Roberts, Patrick Andrews, and William Fieldhouse, this entry in the series was written by the latter.

The book is almost non-stop action as Tom Fletcher finds himself trying to stop an election as well as taking on some Chinese tongs involved in an opium war. This all allows for plenty of bloodletting, be it from bullets punching through flesh or swords slicing through limbs and decapitating various people. So, yes, this series does fall into the category of very violent books that describe their action in savage, gory, detail.

The story held my attention well and kept me eagerly turning the pages, as much to see how high the death toll would be as to how Fletcher would best the massive odds stacked against him.

Friday 3 June 2011

Lust of the Lawless

By Robert Leslie Bellem
Black Dog Books, 2010

Way back before I was born there was a pulp called Spicy Western Stories and this book brings together all of Robert Leslie Bellem’s output for them, the first, Powdersmoke Passion, being published in December 1936, and his final story Gold – and a Girl, appearing in December 1938.

Meat Hunter
Killer’s Brand
Powdersmoke Passion
Bait for a Mantrap
Brand of the Question-Mark
Lust of the Lawless
Coward Man’s Size
Gold – and a Girl

The above titles are sandwiched between an excellent introduction by James Reasoner, and a fascinating couple of pages about the author written by Tom Roberts, owner of Black Dog Books.

All these stories move forwards at tremendous pace, they are filled with action and terrific characters. Many of the women being nearly as tough as the male leads – and being as these stories appeared in a Spicy pulp, they all seem to loose their clothes at some point, often whilst seducing the hero so they can steal his pistol. In fact most of these stories do seem to follow a similar pattern so when one didn’t it came as a great surprise, this tale was written in the first person whereas the others are all in the third. A number of these stories also contain a twist or two but overall they have straightforward plots.

I was surprised by how little these stories come across as dated, true there is some dialogue of the times, particularly when Mexicans speak, and there are plenty of terms we don’t see that often in today’s westerns. Some of the violence is quite graphic in its description. All this, for me, adds to the charm of this great collection of short stories.

I’d originally planned to read these stories over a few days but found myself reading one then thinking ‘just one more’ and before I knew it I’d read the lot. For me, it really is a shame that Robert Leslie Bellem didn’t write more westerns, as I found all of these to be highly entertaining and I’d certainly recommend this book to all fans of the genre.

Check out Black Dog Books here.

Thursday 2 June 2011

Global eBook Awards

Dan Poynter's Global eBook Awards are now open for entries. I've been told a western category is to be added, so if you've written a western ebook why not enter it? More information can be found here.

WF Peacemaker Awards - The Winners

Western Fictioneers (WF) is pleased to announce the WINNERs for the first annual (2010) Peacemaker Awards.



Wayne Dundee, “This Old Star” from the anthology Bad Cop…No Donut (Padwolf Publishing)


Carol Crigger, “Left Behind” from the anthology Roundup! Great Stories of the West (La Frontera Publishing

C. Courtney Joyner , “Two-Bit Kill” from the anthology Law of the Gun (Kensington)

Matthew P. Mayo, “Scourge of Spoils” from the anthology Steampunk’d (DAW Books, Inc.)

Pete Peterson, “Catch a Killer by the Toe” published by Untreed Reads



Lyle Brandt (winner), Manhunt (Berkley)


Lyle Brandt, Avenging Angels (Berkley)

D.H. Eraldi, Settler’s Chase (Berkley)

Dusty Richards, Wulf’s Tracks (Berkley)

Kit Prate, Long Ride to Limbo -- Western Trail Blazer 
(an imprint of Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery)

S. Craig Zahler, Congregation of Jackals (Dorchester Publishing)

Western Fictioneers (WF) was formed in 2010 by Robert J. Randisi, James Reasoner, Frank Roderus, and other professional Western writers, to preserve, honor, and promote traditional Western writing in the 21st century.  Entries were accepted in both print and electronic forms.  The Peacemaker Awards will be given out annually.  Submissions for the 2011 awards will be open in July, 2011. Submission guidelines will be posted on the WF web site. For more information about Western Fictioneers (WF) please visit:

Wednesday 1 June 2011

Blind Justice at Wedlock

By Ross Morton
A Black Horse Western from Hale, May 2011

When Clint Brennan interrupts two men kidnapping his wife Belle, he is shot and left for dead. But he recovers his senses and finds that his wife is gone and he has been blinded. Most men would have given up, but not Clint. Astride his donkey, he sets out with his faithful dog Mutt on the trail of his wife’s abductors.

Belle, meanwhile, believes her husband is dead, and when a rich saviour comes to her rescue, the people around her suggest it’s time to start again….

A tale of violence, betrayal and lies – it will all end at Wedlock, amidst flames and bullets.

There’s plenty of mystery to hold your attention in this fast moving, action packed tale that often has you believing you know what is going on, but then offers a surprising twist to completely throw you off track.

The idea of having a blind hero is not often seen in westerns, so offers an intriguing take to this story. Reading how he overcomes his handicap makes for an interesting, and entertaining, storyline. Dog lovers will surely warm to Brennan’s plucky four-legged friend.

Ross Morton tells his story from the viewpoints of many of his well-drawn characters. At first these many threads seem unrelated but they eventually pull together, leaving none dangling by the end.

Those who’ve read the other books by Ross Morton will know that two of the three are based around Bethesda Falls, and this book continues that trend, so a few characters will be familiar to you. If you haven’t read the earlier books then that won’t spoil your enjoyment of this story as it could easily be a stand-alone title.

With Blind Justice at Wedlock Ross Morton (real name Nik Morton) has once again left me eager to read his next title. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait two years as we’ve had to between this and his previous title, The $300 Man.