Monday 31 October 2011

Ghosts of Bluewater Creek

By Terry James
Hale, October 2011

Josh McCabe is a man hunter with one thing on his mind; to bring in Abe Lawton, the last and most vicious member of a gang who killed his wife and son. Now that time has arrived, but what Josh doesn’t count on is a smart-mouthed kid out for revenge and a girl in the wrong place at the wrong time.

When the showdown comes it’s quick but far from decisive and leaves the three facing a new, more dangerous future.

By telling the story mainly through the eyes of the three main characters, Terry James is able to leave one or more of them in dangerous situations before switching to one of the others therefore ensuring the reader will keep turning the pages to find out what happens next.

The opening scenes bring the main characters all together for a major shootout of the kind that many authors would finish their books with. None of these characters come out of this exciting gunfight in one piece and the reader is left with the question of how the story will develop after this.

I don’t want to give anything away here, but what I will say is the story shifts up a gear and the action doesn’t let up. Terry James (author Joanne Walpole) also has a couple of surprises waiting in store, not least as to which townsperson she kills off.

Terry James’ descriptive prose paints very visual images within the mind, and her dialogue crackles with believability. The plot is extremely well thought out and all threads are neatly tied up in a keep you guessing until the last page.

Ghosts of Bluewater Creek is Terry James’ third BHW and it’s officially published today. Let’s hope it’s not too long before her fourth appears.

Friday 28 October 2011

Interview: John Legg

“Pure adventure…the raw energy of fight scenes lends piquancy, and skillful dialogue seems totally natural.” – Publishers Weekly

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer? 

Hard to tell, exactly. I guess I sort of started thinking about it when I began college for the first time (I dropped out after a year and didn’t go back for several years). I was encouraged by a graduate assistant there. It sort of built from that point until five or six years later I thought I might have some talent at it and wanted to do it. So I began working at it. Unfortunately, I’ve not made my living by writing. I‘ve been in journalism for many years now, and have been a copy editor virtually my whole career. I also edit books and other work on the side.

Did anyone encourage you to write, and if so whom?

As I said above, a graduate assistant at college was the first to encourage me. When I got back to college several instructors did so, then some fellow students and eventually editors.

Which writers influence you?

Interesting question. Many writers interest me and I admire their talent, but I don’t know as if I’m influenced by them, per se. The biggest influence was a writer named Janice Holt Giles. I read her book “The Great Adventure,” and was just blown away. She had a series of historical novels in the ‘50s and ‘60s, of which “The Great Adventure” was one. After reading that, I went and read most of the others, starting with “The Kentuckians’ and ending with “The Great Adventure.” As a kid I read — more like devoured — the Tarzan books, which probably had some subliminal influence years later.

What was the first novel you had published and if this wasn’t a western what was your first western? 

My first was, indeed, a Western (all my novels have been Westerns). It was titled “Cheyenne Lance.”

What appeals to you about the western genre?

I just love it. The time, the place, the history. I’ve always been attracted to Westerns, mostly as movies, when I was young. I still don’t read that many Westerns. (I don’t want to unconsciously copy an idea)

What is the biggest challenge in writing a western?

Getting the history right, I think. Western readers are knowledgeable, especially about things like weapons and clothing and dates.

Many of your westerns are about Mountain Men. Do you prefer writing about this time period rather than the time after the Civil War?

Yes. That’s my favorite period of history.

Did your Forts of Freedom series involve more research than other books, and how important is historical accuracy in westerns to you?

Yes and yes. The books in the Forts of Freedom series were historicals, so they were heavily based on real people/places/events.

One of my all time favourite western series was Saddle Tramp that you wrote under the name of Clint Hawkins, and I was disappointed it ended after eight books. You sure didn’t give Wade Calhoun an easy time of it, and he had to be the unluckiest man ever when it came to horses. Was this something you planned or did it evolve as the series developed?

I was disappointed that it ended, too. I liked ol’ Wade. And yeah, I did give him a hard time, but he was able to handle it. As for the horses, I just did it in the first couple, then decided this would be a trademark, of a sort. After five or six, though, it got to be a bit harder to come up with ways for his horse to go under.

Book 6 in the Wildgun series seemed to read as if it was the last, even the title, End of the Hunt, implied this too. Nearly two years later book 7 appeared. Why such a big gap and was book 6 originally planned to be the end of the series?

Yes, it looked as if No. 6 was going to be the last, so that’s the way I wrote it, though I did leave it at least a little ambiguous. Then they decided that the series deserved a couple more adventures, and voila, No, 6 was not the end of the hunt.

There are some fairly lengthy gaps between the publication of the Joe Coffin books. Did you originally plan to write a series about Coffin or was he a character you created as a one off that you liked and then decided to write more about?

“Arizona Coffin” was just going to be a stand alone. Then I decided I liked Joe Coffin a lot, so I brought him back now and again.

You’ve written for a couple of series, The Ramseys and Texas Tracker, that were started by other authors. Did you find writing about someone else’s characters as easy as writing about a character you created yourself?

It’s a little tougher, since you don’t “know” the character as well. But, I always tried to give those characters a little of my own “style.” It’s also a bit harder to fit your story into the “history” of the character, but not that difficult. I think the biggest trouble I have with them is that I have my own “voice” and it’s very difficult to emulate, as it were, others’ styles.

Your last western, To Face a Savage Land, appeared in 2007. Can we expect more new books in the future?

I certainly hope so. As you noted, I’ve not been published for some time, but I have some things in the fire now, so hopefully something will open up soon.

Which of your westerns would you recommend to someone who hasn’t read any of your work yet and why?

This is a common question for writers, I think, and a tough one to answer. The clich├ęd response is that this is like trying to name your favorite child. I don’t think I could pick just one, but among those that I might recommend are for historicals, “War at Bent’s Fort,” and “Blood at Fort Bridger”; for mountain man adventures, “Buckskins and Blood,” “Winter Rage,” and the Thunder Trilogy; and for traditional, post-Civil War stories, “Apache Coffin” and “Sheriff’s Blood.” Sorry, I know that’s an awful lot. As to why, well, for Bent’s Fort, I’ve always had a fondness for William Bent, a real person who is the central character in that novel. Same with Jim Bridger. For the rest, I think the characters as well as the stories are appealing.

Please tell us a little about your book Shinin’ Trails: A Possibles Bag of Fur Trade Trivia.

As I mentioned before, the mountain man period is my favorite period of history. I had been reading about it for years, and picked up lots of tidbits and interesting facts. So I thought I’d put them together then use a trivia format to give it a little extra kick, rather than just putting down some dry facts. It was a fun project.

Are any of your older books available as e-books, and if not have you considered publishing some this way?

I think “To Face a Savage Land” is available as an e-book. But none of the others are as far as I know. I have considered it but at this point I’m not sure how to go about it. I’m beginning to look into it, though.

What do you think of the western genre today and what do you think the future holds for the western?

As far as the writing goes, I think the genre is stronger than ever. The problem lies in the publishing world. Publishers are hurting in general, so have cut back across the board. Few are doing Westerns these days. The other part of the problem as I see it is that young people, by and large, don’t read as much and those that do don’t seem much interested in the genre. Because of all that, I don’t think the future is very bright, and that’s very saddening. On the other hand, there have been some news reports recently about a number of Westerns being prepared for TV. That’s a good sign, though whether they will actually take off, and whether they reboot the genre in print (or e-book) remains an open question. I sure hope so. Trouble is, every time some Western movie or TV show pops up, some folks start seeing it as the long-awaited revival of the Western. But it has never taken place.

Which western writers would you recommend?

Jory Sherman, Richard Wheeler, Robert Randisi, James Reasoner, Kerry Newcomb, L.J. Martin. Those no longer with us: Terry C. Johnston, Elmer Kelton, Don Coldsmith.

If you could write a sequel to any western (not your own) which would it be and why?

I can’t really answer that. As I said, I don’t really read that many Westerns, and most that are any good, I wouldn’t presume to even dream about doing a sequel.

What is your favourite western movie and why?

“Jeremiah Johnson.” While it’s actually almost a decade after the end of what’s considered the mountain man period, and there are a number of flaws, it still has the essence of what a mountain man movie should be. Hell, it’s what a *movie* should be: Lots of movement and action, spare dialogue but what’s there is sparkling, good characters, both main and secondary, gorgeous scenery and settings. Simply put, it touches something deep in me.

Thursday 27 October 2011

Encounter at Salvation Creek

By Paxton Johns
Hale, September 2011

When rich young Englishman, Born Gallant, arrives in America after the death of his father, he goes first to see family friend William Pinkerton. The boss of the famous detective agency at once gives him an assignment: the head of the Kansas City office has been murdered, there has been an attempt on Pinkerton’s life, and he wants to know why.

From that day on, Gallant finds himself embroiled in a fight to the death against gunmen hired by warring cattlemen fighting against reorganisation of their industry. Helped by young trainee lawyer, Melody Lake, and a newspaperman, Stick McCrae, Gallant’s fight to bring the killers to justice takes him from Kansas City to the hell-hole of Salvation Creek. Will he prevail in the final bloody showdown?

This is the first book to carry the author name of Paxton Johns, and it proves to be a very good debut. Born Gallant makes for an engaging hero, a man who sees the humour in his own name, can play the out-of-his-depth greenhorn perfectly to throw his adversaries off balance, doesn’t carry a gun of his own, but is exceptionally sharp-witted and can more than stand his ground in a fight. In fact his bumbling fool act is used to great effect, particularly in a barroom scene when facing the gunman suspected of shooting Pinkerton.

The book contains a number of twists and turns, is peopled with many well-drawn characters of both sexes, its action sequences are superbly written, and finishes with a frantic race against time. All this means that Encounter at Salvation Creek is an exciting and entertaining read, which leaves me wondering, and hoping, that Born Gallant will appear again in a further adventure.

As the author explains in a note at the end, the Cattlemen’s Associations around which the story revolves really existed, and the changes being fought about did happen. Although the story is fictional it is based on something that did happen in the mid 1880s.

Who Is Morgan Kane?

Tuesday 25 October 2011

The Traditional West

- An anthology of original stories -
By The Western Fictioneers, 2011

With twenty-four brand new stories from some of the top western writers working today, this anthology most definitely offers value for money.

Most of the included authors aren’t new names to me, and of the handful that were I think it’s safe to say I’ll be looking to try some of their full length novels soon. Of course there are stories that stood out to me but I can honestly say that there isn’t one that I didn’t enjoy reading.

Many of the authors have chosen to write new stories for characters they’ve written about before. The themes of the tales cover a wide variety of situations such as murder, robbery, land grabbing, revenge, and serial killers. A couple of the stories delve into the supernatural, and another has an unusual choice for a hero: a samurai. All of this means you are never certain what kind of tale you are going to get as you start each new story.

Each story is headed by a paragraph that gives some background to the author that wrote it, one of which says the hero of his tale is to soon appear in a brand new western series – something I’ll be looking forward to.

This anthology should be essential reading for every western fan and I can only hope that The Western Fictioneers follow this excellent collection up with another not to far down the trail.

The Silver Noose by Jackson Lowry
A Close Shave on Commerce Street by Steven Clark
Lost Mountain Pass by Larry D. Sweazy
The Poker Payout (a Calvin Carter adventure) by Scott D. Parker
Blood Trail to Dodge (a Talbot Roper story) by Robert J. Randisi
The Sin of Eli by Troy D. Smith
The Way of the West by Larry Jay Martin
The Great Texas Kapusta Incident by James J. Griffin
The Death of Delgado by Rod Miller
Whiskey for Breakfast by Jerry Guin
Rattler by James Reasoner
Silence by Ross Morton
Never Trust a Widder by Phil Dunlap
Storm Damage (a Rome Warfield Frontier Mystery) by Pete Peterson
Catch as Catch Can (a Maple Jack tale) by Matthew P. Mayo
Kataki by Chuck Tyrell
When Was It Going to Rain? by Dusty Richards
New Dog, Old Tricks (a Gideon Miles story) by Edward A. Grainger
The Redemption of Cade Beauchard by Kit Prate
Boot Hill Neighbors by Clay More
The Kindness of Strangers by Cheryl Pierson
Wire by C. Courtney Joyner
Panhandle Freight (a Lucas Hallam tale) by L.J. Washburn
Penance by Kerry Newcomb

Also available as an ebook.

Monday 24 October 2011

The Last Mann

By Hank J. Kirby
A Black Horse Western from Hale, September 2011

Jubal Mann was the closest he’d ever been to realizing a long-held dream. With all his experience following the wild and dangerous cattle trails, from the Rio to Canada, he figured he could start a new breed of cattle: Longhorn Cross with imported Angus Red.

Mann was convinced that the best of the hardy, self-sufficient Longhorn combined with the meat-bearing quality of the Angus would put top-notch steaks on the plates of a nation, and dollars in his pocket.

However his past came back to haunt him: just as he had his dream within reach, killers moved in and he found himself with his back to the wall, and a smoking gun in each hand.

Cattle breeding is just the backbone to this story, it plays little part to the main thrust of the plot, this being a bounty placed on Jubal Mann by an unknown enemy, which leads to a number of well written violent confrontations.

The pace of the book is superb, as one would expect from this author – Hank J. Kirby being one of the pseudonyms used by Keith Hetherington: a writer who has been putting out quality westerns for many years. The story also offers a number of surprises, and the twist that comes along about half-way through the book was completely unforeseen by me and meant it was virtually impossible for me to put the book down from then on as I had to discover what would happen next and how it would all play out.

Even though the reader knows who is behind the attempts on Mann’s life, the why isn’t revealed until the author is good and ready to tell. By the end, all the plot threads are neatly tied up and I was left eagerly looking forward to Keith Hetherington’s next book.

Friday 21 October 2011

Texas Lead Slingers

By Jon Sharpe
Signet, October 2011

In a booming Gulf Coast town, Skye Fargo and more than a dozen of the best cardsharps around are competing in a high-stakes game being held by Fargo’s old friend Senator Deerforth. But someone wants Fargo to fold before the games even start, and the Trailsman is going to have to play things close to the vest if he’s going to survive….

Right from the opening page this book had me hooked as an attempt on Fargo’s life left unanswered questions which in turn lead to more. Why are these two men trying to kill Fargo? Why him and none of the other card players? Who is behind the assassins? My need to find out, and the author’s use of very short chapters that all end in either a cliff-hanger situation or another question, meant this would be a hard book to put down until the end.

The story soon becomes a hunt for a thief and kidnapper and Fargo finds himself riding with a posse made up of an excellent mix of characters. One being Vin Creed, who has some great comments to make about just about everything that happens, most of his observations being sarcastic humour, many of which had me laughing to myself.

The book is filled with fast moving action, often quite graphic and a number of times happening without warning. There’s some neat twists to the tale too that provided some surprising revelations and who gets killed and by whose hand.

As many of you will be aware The Trailsman is classed as an adult series, but don’t let that put you off reading this book, as the author (this time David Robbins writing as Jon Sharpe) only includes one sex scene that takes up a couple of pages, which isn’t just added to the story for sexual gratification as it becomes an important part of the plot development.

No story threads are left undone by the end and the final lines left me grinning and looking forward to The Trailsman’s next adventure.

Just a final note about the cover; for some reason Signet have used the same cover art they used two books ago, on The Trailsman #358: Six-Gun Vendetta, so if you are a fan of this series and see the book on the shop shelves don’t make the mistake of passing it by because you think you’ve already read it, because if you do you’ll be missing out on a great read.

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Wilderness #66

By David Thompson
Dorchester, September 2011

Shakespeare McNair has always been happiest when living in the fringes of the frontier, ever pushing the boundaries of exploration. When an old friend tells him of a valley undisturbed by the hand of man, he just can’t resist the temptation. And so he sets off to find it with Nate King, Nate’s wife, and his own wife, Blue Water Woman. But they are about to find out that every Garden of Eden has serpents lurking in the shadows. In this valley, it’s a two-legged enemy – one that slays all intruders.

At long last Dorchester has published the latest two Wilderness stories, Seed of Evil and Garden of Eden, in a single trade paperback, the cost of which is very similar to what you would have paid if both books had been published separately as regular sized paperbacks.

Both are available as ebooks too, with Seed of Evil having been available this way for sometime, and that was how I read it when it first came out and why I’m not reviewing it alongside Garden of Eden. My review of Seed of Evil can be found here.

Garden of Eden provides a lot of suspenseful reading as the King’s and McNair’s travel into an unknown valley and find themselves being stalked by ‘something’. Fleeting glimpses and strange tracks bring rise to fears and then a desperate struggle to escape the valley. You’ll have to find out just what it is that lives here for yourself, as I don’t want to reveal who or what they are here. I will say that I have seen comment by the author that they are mentioned in books that deal with Indian Legends.

As expected from the Wilderness series this story offers everything you could want: a fast moving story that’s filled with tension, action, cracking dialogue, and lots of humour. This story also reveals more of Blue Water Woman’s past, which leads to this usually in control woman being taken over by a killing rage. Why? Again you’ll have to read the book to find out.

Now, I, and the many, many other fans of this great series can only hope that Dorchester doesn’t take quite so long to publish the next two books in the series.

Saturday 15 October 2011

Siege at Hope Wells

By Scott Connor
A Black Horse Western from Hale, September 2011

When the plague came to Hope Wells, it took the weak and the healthy, young and old, good and bad. Within a week the town had become a living hell, but for differing reasons some men still wanted to go there.

Marshal Lincoln Hawk and Nick Mitchell went in search of outlaw Marvin Sewell. Correspondent Kyle Portman sought a story for his newspaper and Peter Campbell wanted to rescue his wife. The least welcome visitor was Ward Dixon, who saw an opportunity to profit from the developing tragedy. In a desperate time that brought out the best and the worst in humanity, these men became embroiled in a conflict where even the might of the gun won’t guarantee survival.

Scott Connor creates a wonderful air of fear throughout this book, a terror that sees even the toughest of men and women fear for their lives. How to fight a water born disease becomes a battle over the need for fresh water. As the reader gets further into the story it seems someone wants this plague to carry on and is helping it to do so, but who, and why? Obviously I’m not going to reveal the answers to those questions here, but I will say that I didn’t guess the reason.

The book doesn’t really have a central hero, the story being told through many different characters. This helps propel the story along at great pace making the book difficult to put down. There are plenty of action sequences, including an attempt to force someone to drink some of the contaminated water, which I found to be particularly suspenseful.

And do all the characters mentioned above survive? Again, that’s something I’m not going to answer, but I will say that I believe most western readers will get a lot of enjoyment from this book finding out.

Wednesday 12 October 2011

The Shopkeeper

By James D. Best
Wheatmark, 2008

In 1879, Steve Dancy sells his New York shop and ventures west to explore and write a journal about his adventures. Though he’s not looking for trouble, Dancy’s infatuation with another man’s wife soon embroils him in a deadly feud with Sean Washburn, a Nevada silver baron.

Infuriated by the outrages of two hired thugs, the shopkeeper kills both men in an impulsive street fight. Dancy believes this barbarian act has closed the episode. He is wrong. He has interfered with Washburn’s ambitions, and this is something the mining tycoon will not allow.

Pinkerton’s, hired assassins, and aggrieved bystanders escalate the feud until it pulls in all the moneyed interests and power brokers in Nevada. Can the former city slicker settle accounts without losing his life in the process?

James D. Best presents the reader with a book that’s as much a political thriller as it is a Western; in fact these genres meld extremely well in the capable hands of Mr. Best. The story is filled with intrigue, exciting gunfights, and terrific characters – and it’s not just the men that come over as tough, manipulating, scheming, memorable characters, for James D. Best matches them in everyway with his well-crafted female characters such as Jenny (whom Steve Dancy is infatuated with) and her mother-in-law, Mrs. Bolton.

The story is told in the first person through Steve Dancy, the books hero. But is he a hero? If he is he sure isn’t squeaky clean, in fact a lot of the methods he uses to get his way aren’t that dissimilar to that of the bad guy, Washburn. Neither are above bribing, intimidating, or gunning down people before they have a chance to defend themselves as both attempt to gain power. But do books need a white-hat hero? Not to please me, that’s for sure, as I like characters that have a darker side to their personalities.

After the first two or three chapters this book really took hold and I found it difficult to put down as all the twists and turns kept me eagerly reading to find out what happened next. With all the plot developments the story has a natural fast pace and before I knew it I’d reached the end, leaving me wanting to read the next in the series – as of this date there are two further Steve Dancy tales: Leadville and Murder at Thumb Butte.

Sunday 9 October 2011

The Way Station

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

Cameron Black knows that it is time to pack away his guns. He and Virginia need to put their past behind them and when Cameron accepts a job running a quiet way station in the desert, it seems like the perfect way to forget about old enemies.

But Cameron soon realizes it is never that easy to leave trouble behind. A stagecoach arrives at the way station. On it is an outlaw smuggling fifty thousand in gold and a young woman named Becky Grant, who is on the run from a rejected suitor. On their trail is Sheriff Beaton, Becky’s wide-eyed suitor and rival bandits in pursuit of treasure.

Now, as a menacing dust storm gathers that threatens to keep them captive in the way station, Cameron Black knows he must use his guns once more….

June 2009 saw the publication of an Owen G. Irons book called The Outpost, which I reviewed here. That book ended with a question mark over the future of two of its leading characters. The Way Station picks that story up and answers that question and once more Cameron Black and Virginia find themselves fighting to stay alive.

Owen G. Irons brings together a great set of characters, each having an important role to play in the outcome of this story. As the different plot threads bring everyone to the way station some of threads entwine making this book difficult to put down before discovering how everything will play out. This in turn leads to plenty of action as outlaws, lawmen, runaways, and bandits trying to go straight, clash.

The book is extremely well paced and all threads are neatly tied up by the end, once again strengthening my belief that Owen G. Irons is one of the best Black Horse writers working today. September was a treat for fans of this author’s work – real name Paul Lederer – as a second book was published under his other pseudonym of Logan Winters: The Killing Time.

Friday 7 October 2011

Savage Texas

By William W. Johnstone with J.A. Johnstone
Pinnacle, September 2011

For renegades and pioneers, there is no place like Texas – as long as you have a gun and the guts to use it. Now, the Civil War is over. Carpetbaggers and scalawags rule Austin. Soldiers return to pillaged homes. Longhorns roam the wilds and the state is in chaos. Especially in a town called Hangtree.

Sam Heller and Johnny Cross are Hangtree’s newest citizens: Heller is a former Yankee soldier, a deadly shot, and a believer in right from wrong. Cross is a gun for hire with dark dreams of wealth and power – at any cost. By fate and by choice, these two strangers will find themselves on opposite sides of the law and Hangtree will soon erupt in murderous violence.

Savage Texas is the first in a new series and, like many firsts in book and television much of it is taken up with introducing the reader to the many characters that live in this part of Texas. And what a great set of characters they are. Set in 1866 we have some who are returning home after the Civil War, there is also the threat of Indian attack or outlaw at any time. Carpetbaggers are running wild. The Union Army is struggling to control anything. There is the ranch run by proud Mexicans….and many more.

The author tells his fast moving story by switching from one set of characters to another regularly, takes time to fill the reader in on their back-stories. It soon becomes apparent that not everyone is quite who they first say they are, and a number of them are plotting to get their hands on the reward for finding a missing wagon and are planning to double-cross each other once it is found.

There’s plenty of action, from massacres, ambush, single gunfighters taking on large odds, and a great final shoot-out in a canyon. For those who are interested in guns, Sam Heller carries an unusual sidearm – think of Steve McQueen’s character, Randall, in Wanted Dead or Alive.

Savage Texas proved to be an entertaining read that left me hoping it won’t be a year – which seems to be the time gap between books in many of the Johnstone series – before I get chance to read what happens next.

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Bride of the Morning Star

By Don Coldsmith
Bantam edition, May 1993

Bear Paws of the Elk-dog People married into the Pawnee Nation and adopted their rituals and customs as his own. But when they abduct a young maiden of the People, he is torn between past ties and loyalty to his new wife’s tribe. His dilemma is complicated by the secret arrival of his old ally Tall Bull, who has come to rescue his beloved Calling Bird – with or without Bear Paw’s help. Both realize that the Pawnee have already chosen her to be the bride of their most powerful god, the Morning Star, and at the end of the ceremony she must die….

Set about five years after the previous book in the series, Return of the Spanish, this story tells of Bear Paws struggles to accept some the traditions of the Pawnee, which in turn put a strain on his marriage and will, perhaps, bring about its end. The main problem that Bear Paws has to deal with is human sacrifice. In an author’s note at the beginning of the book Don Coldsmith tells of how this element of the story is based on fact and events in his story are similar to what happened to the Piegan girl, Lance Woman, that took place in 1856 and is said to be the last attempt by the Pawnee to carry out this traditional sacrifice to the Morning Star.

Don Coldsmith writes a gripping story that becomes a race against time. Characters are beautifully depicted and I soon found myself wondering if Bear Paw would be able to save Calling Bird, even with the help of Spotted Cat, a warrior of the People, who it is said can make himself invisible. Superbly paced, I found this book impossible to put down and all too soon found I had reached the end, and once more find myself eager to read the next book in the series.

Mention must be made of artist Tom Hall who really does capture the mood of the story well with his cover painting right down to colour and style of clothing and shape of the red crosses, along with the different coloured cross poles of the ladder behind the figures. Quite simply an excellent cover painting to front a top class book.

Monday 3 October 2011

Longarm #394

By Tabor Evans
Jove, September 2011

Down West Texas way, a girl gang of gorgeous grim reapers has been leaving a bloody trail of bullet-riddled corpses. They call themselves the Four Horsewomen of the Apocalypse, and they like to let men whimper a while before they blast them to kingdom come. The Santa Clara town council would like nothing better than to string up the quartet of killers, but someone has to bring them in first.

That someone would be Deputy U.S. Marshal Custis Long.

But these bodacious banshees have plans for the lawman – and they don’t include going quietly. Stripped of his defences, Longarm figures if four wild women are going to try to take him out, he’d rather go with a bang…

From its opening scene of humiliation and brutal violence this book grabs the readers attention and refuses to let go until the end is reached. And what a trail the storyline follows!

As one would expect from Peter Brandvold – yes he is the author writing behind the pseudonym of Tabor Evans this time – the book is filled with action, only seeming to let up for action of another kind. Full of twists and turns, Peter keeps the reader, and Longarm, guessing as to the identity of the Four Horsewomen of the Apocalypse: four women who will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. Are they just common outlaws out for what they can get or is there a purpose to their rampage? Longarm has to fight hard to stay alive whilst struggling to find the answers and in doing so unveils some startling facts before bringing this assignment to a very bloody end.

The story is told at great pace with many nail-biting life and death situations that are very visual in their telling. The four women being excellent adversaries for Longarm.

This book is one that fans of Longarm, and/or Peter Brandvolds’ work, should make sure they don’t miss.