Sunday 30 September 2012

Domingo's Trail

By Greg Mitchell
Hale, September 2012

Vicious Mexican bandit, Estrada, is holding an American to ransom in the Sabinas Valley and has arranged for two different expeditions to come and shower him with gold in return for a safe release. But vengeful Apaches appear and also a mysterious Mexican, named Domingo, who warns that the captive is dead and that Estrada means to slaughter them all.

With the combined ransom parties now joined in their mission, they are ready for bloody battle with both Indians and bandits. Can Domingo’s advice be trusted? And will all who follow his perilous trail survive?

This book doesn’t really have a standout hero or heroine figure as Greg Mitchell tells his story from the viewpoint of various characters in the ransom parties, none of whom seem able to completely trust each other, these mistrusts becoming stronger when the two parties team up to fight a common enemy.

There’s plenty of action, in fact the last three quarters of the book reads like one continuous gunfight as the ransom parties attempt to escape from the Mexicans and Indians.

It is never a foregone conclusion as to who will be alive at the end and there are one or two surprises along the way as some of the characters show their true colours. The mystery as to who Domingo really is provides compelling reading.

Greg Mitchell is a pseudonym used by Paddy Gallagher and once again his fast paced style and great storytelling prove that he is a western writer worth reading.

Friday 28 September 2012

Luke Jensen, Bounty Hunter

By William W. Johnstone with J.A. Johnstone
Pinnacle, September 2012

The last days of the Civil War. With Richmond under siege, Confederate soldier Luke Jensen is assigned the task of smuggling gold out of the city before the Yankees get their hands on it – when he is ambushed and robbed by four deserters, shot in the back, and left for dead. Taken in by a Georgia farmer and his beautiful daughter, Luke is nursed back to health. Though crippled, he hopes to reunite with his long-lost brother Smoke, but a growing romance keeps him on the farm. Then fate takes a tragic turn. Ruthless carpetbaggers arrive and – in a storm of bullets and bloodshed – Luke is forced to strike out on his own. Searching for a new life. Hunting down the baddest of the bad…to become the greatest bounty hunter who ever lived.

This is the first in another new series from the Johnstone’s, the third this year if my memory is correct. Here we find out what really happened to Luke Jensen, his fate having been mentioned way back, briefly, in the early Mountain Man books about Smoke Jensen, in fact for fans of Smoke this book is a must read as he has a role to play here too.

Bounty Hunter is divided into four parts, each dealing with a different period in Luke Jensen’s life, such as trying to get the gold out of Richmond and his recovery from being left for dead.

The author tells the story at a rapid pace and it’s filled with exciting incidents, be they fast furious fights or gripping struggles to survive, for me one of the best of these being Luke’s desperate attempt to save himself from drowning without the use of his legs.  

For those who like a touch of romance in their books then this one won’t disappoint, although it’s obvious from the blurb this isn’t going to end happily, but it didn’t end as I expected, so its finish came as a surprise.

With plenty of cliff-hanger scene and chapter endings along with strong storylines this is a book that urges you to continue reading, and it’s one that has left me looking forward to the next.

Finally, a comment about the cover, the image shown above is the book I have and if you compare it to the pictures shown at various Internet bookstores you’ll see it has had the gunmen in the background removed. Makes me wonder why? Any ideas?

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Johnny Dollar

By Tony Masero
Hale, September 2012

They called him Johnny Dollar.

An orphan child raised by a preacher and destined to run foul of the law it’s bloody murder that keeps Johnny running, with trouble on his trail.

Riding shotgun into Julesville, he finds a pretty schoolteacher set to win his love. But in the shadows, the Hellblazing Gang are waiting, determined to steal something a sight more valuable than a man’s heart. The gang holds a secret which is part of Johnny’s past and the key to his future, and to gain his freedom Johnny Dollar has to pay a murderous price, one which is delivered in hot lead instead of greenbacks….

Tony Masero has created an excellent hero in Johnny Dollar. A man whose legend comes about through untrue tales about his activities, giving him an unwanted notoriety and even when Johnny thinks he may be escaping those myths someone manages to spill those untruths again and Johnny’s life takes a turn for the worse.

The story begins before Johnny is born and we follow his life through all its trials and tribulations. Being accused of murdering his guardian, then of more killings when escaping prison, these are just a couple of the difficulties he has to deal with. Later, when he meets Joanna and finds himself working as a lawman life looks like it’s taking a turn for the better…until he realizes a bunch of people from his past are set to destroy his dreams.

Full of excellent characters the story moves forwards at a swift pace, with action aplenty. Tony Masero brings everything to a head in a courtroom showdown that concludes the tale of Johnny Dollar in superb fashion.

I also noticed that Tony Masero tips his hat to a number of western authors from days past as his uses their names for a lot of his characters; for instance you’ll find a Short, LeMay and Slade.

Tony Masero not only wrote the book he also painted the cover image too.

Let’s hope it’s not too long before we see another BHW from Tony.

Johnny Dollar has an official release date of September 28th but is available now.

Monday 24 September 2012

High Noon in Snake Ridge

By Scott Connor
Hale, September 2012

After serving ten years in jail, a reformed Matthew Jennings returns to Snake Ridge to reconcile with his respectable family, but finds his brother lying dead and his father won’t speak to him.

To track down his brother’s killer, he secures a position as deputy town marshal, but when he follows the evidence it leads to a man who must be innocent – his own father. Worse is to follow when a feuding outlaw gives him an ultimatum to leave town by noon or die.

Facing a race against time to uncover the truth and with a mysterious gunslinger haunting his every move, Matthew’s resolve to turn his back on his past will be tested to breaking point before he faces a high noon showdown.

Filled with twists and turns this book has plenty of intrigue and suspense that will keep anyone glued to the pages. Who’s the mysterious gunman? Who killed Matthew’s brother? Will his father ever speak to him, let along welcome him back into the family? Will the townsfolk accept an ex-jailbird as a lawman? Then there is Abigail, Matthews’ ex-lover now married and bringing up a child. Will she ever forgive him? Not forgetting Matthew’s old outlaw gang who are still on the scene it would seem that Matthew’s attempts to start a new life are doomed to failure from the moment he returns to his home town.

Scott Connor has created a fascinating set of characters and a gripping storyline that capture the imagination superbly. The outcome of this book is never a foregone conclusion and offers plenty of surprises.

High Noon in Snake Ridge is an extremely entertaining book that left me eagerly looking forward to Scott Connor’s next. 

Even though it has an official release date of September the 28th the book is available now from the usual Internet booksellers.

Saturday 22 September 2012

Series and Sequels part 2

Here's the second part of the list of series and books with a sequel that I have in my collection (or have had).   The number after each entry indicates the number of books in the series, not the number I own, although in most cases I do have them all.

If you want anymore information about any of them just ask in comments. To find the first part of this list click the label Series and Sequels at the end of this post.

CADE, Jubal 
by Charles R. Pike – 22 books

by John Legg – 2 books

by Irving A. Greenfield – 3 books

by Peter McCurtin – 6 books

by Cameron Judd – 3 books

by Doug Hawkins – 8 books

CASH, Rance 
by Tim McGuire – 4 books

by John Robb – 3 books

by Ed Gorman – 3 books

by William R. Cox – 5 books

by Clay Tanner – 12 books

by Judd Cole – 23 books (22 regular sized books + 1 Giant Edition)

see Colt Family Saga

by Chet Cunningham – 3 books

by Wes Calhoun – 4 books

by Leo P. Kelley – 22 books (books 14, 17, and 19 by Lew Baines)

by P.G. Nagle – 4 books

by James Reasoner – 10 books

by Matthew Kirk – 6 books

by Al Conroy – 4 books (another print has them as by Marvin Albert)

CLEVIS, Jimmy 
by John D. Nesbitt – 3 books

COATES, Ralph 
by Bret Ray – 3 books

by Matthew S. Hart – 12 books

by John Legg – 3 books

by F.M. Parker – 3 books

COLES, Jason 
by Charles G. West – 4 books

COLT, Dan 
by Morgan Hill – 9 books

by Don Bendell – 10 books (first three are also known as the Chief of Scouts trilogy)

by Jim Miller – 6 books

by Matt Logan – 3 books

by Geo. W. Proctor – 1 book

by Forrest A. Randolph – 4 books

by Owen Rountree – 9 books

by Bryce Harte – 10 books (ebook versions by Larry Names and books have altered titles)

by David Thompson – 8 books

by James W. Marvin – 8 books

by Vic J. Hanson – 18+ books

by Charles G. West – 2 books

first 2 by John Benteen, rest by H.V. Elkin – 6 books

by Duff McCoy – 4 books

DAHL, Sherman 
by Ralph Cotton – 3 books at time of posting

by Bill Brooks – 3 books

by Gillian F. Taylor – 3 books

by Ralph Cotton – 3 books

by Gary McCarthy – 11 books

by B.W. Lawton – 3 books

 by Pike Bishop – 9 books

by Guy Brewer – 6 books

by Chap O’Keefe – 9 books

DOBBS, Will 
by Frederic Bean – 4 books

by J.D. Hardin – 73 books

by J. Lee Butts – 4 books

by Jerome Gardner – 12+ books

by William W. Johnstone and with J.A. Johnstone – 17 books at time of posting

by John Wesley Howard – 31 books

by George G. Gilman – 61 books

by George G. Gilman – 3 books

by George G. Gilman – 6 ebooks

by Dana Fuller Ross – 3 books

by Kirk Hamilton – 30+ books

by Jim Miller – 11 books

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Of Stampedes, Runaway Trains, & Riverboat Scoundrels

By James C. O’Donnell
Bedside Books, October 2012

The Rip Roaring Days of the West were filled with colourful characters like Wyatt Earp, Calamity Jane, Belle Starr, Doc Holliday, Judge Roy Bean and Cole Younger. Alongside many others such as Bible Banging Billy, the Casey Jones brothers, and the beautiful and mysterious lady on a white stallion, these gallant pioneers of yesterday defined the American people of today. This book lets your imaginations run riot in a collection of compelling and amusing stories about the old Wild and Woolly West.

This book is somewhat different to the westerns I usually read and made a very welcome change in both its outlook and style. The whole book stretches belief and so it should as it is written for laughs and there are plenty to be found within its pages, as James C. O’Donnell sure has a talent for telling a tale story such as those that the mountain men may have told whilst gathered around a campfire.

There are many scenes that had me laughing out loud, such as when Butch Cassidy’s horse, during an attempted hold-up, looks at a couple of women so ugly the unfortunate animal drops dead in shock!

Part of my enjoyment of this collection of short stories was in seeing just how much James C. O’Donnell would stretch reality; how far someone can run (why only run a mile if you could have them running a thousand), how long they can hold their breath underwater, how big those Texas longhorns really are, how fast a locomotive can go, and how far a person can travel through the air using…. well I can’t say as that would spoil this incredible scene.

Of course the author messes with time a little (ok a lot) to bring certain characters together but that is part of the charm of this book, seeing who will turn up next and where. And there is knowledge to be gained too, such as discovering just how the Navajo came to make the blankets they are famous for worldwide…

So if you like a laugh and don’t always want to take things too seriously then do yourself a favour, grab a copy of this book, settle down by the fire with a couple of bottles of xxx hooch and have yourself a fine ol’ time.

Of Stampedes, Runaway Trains, & Riverboat Scoundrels has a release date of October 1st and can be pre-ordered now. The Kindle version is already available.

Sunday 16 September 2012

Bullets and Lies

By Robert J. Randisi
Berkley, September 2012

When former Pinkerton Talbot Roper receives a job offer from an ailing Civil War veteran whose Medal of Honor is about to be revoked, he agrees to help his fellow serviceman. Some believe that Howard Westover’s medal was undeserved, but Roper is determined to track down the men who served with him and get their signed affidavits to prove that his Medal of Honor was earned…

But Roper’s journey is soon derailed when he discovers that two of his contacts are already dead – one hanged twenty years ago, one murdered minutes before his arrival. The men who served with Westover are being hunted down, and Roper’s increasingly dangerous investigation earns him the next spot on the hit list. Aware that someone has been lying to him, Roper can stay one step ahead of the assassin. But the question remains: Will his quick wit be enough to save him from the line of fire and secure a dying man’s legacy?

Readers of J.R. Roberts’ (a pseudonym used by Robert J. Randisi) Gunsmith series will have met Talbot Roper a number of times before as he’s often worked alongside Clint Adams in those books. Now Roper gets his own series and this should be on the must read list of all Gunsmith fans, and those who enjoy Robert J. Randisi’s work like myself.

Unlike The Gunsmith this isn’t an adult series, so should also appeal to westerns fans who don’t like explicit sex in their reading material.

Roper has to deal with an excellent set of characters, such as the Westovers, their lawyer Harwick, gunman Kilkenny, and old associate Donald White. It isn’t long before Roper is wondering if he can trust any of them, and this along with the undisclosed reason behind the removal of the Medal of Honor kept me glued to the book to find out the answers. Who is killing the men Roper is attempting to track down, and why? Was Roper or White the target of a sniper’s bullet? All these questions come thick and fast causing a lot of headaches for Roper as he tries to second-guess his unknown enemies next move.

The book is 268 pages long and they just seemed to fly by as I was easily caught up in the mystery elements of this gripping fast paced tale. Robert J. Randisi writes in an easy to read style that flows effortlessly, making the book a joy to read.

Bullets and Lies is a very entertaining story that left me eagerly looking forward to the next in the series, The Reluctant Pinkerton, which I believe is due out in July 2013.

Thursday 13 September 2012

Cover Gallery: Preacher's Law

by Dean L. McElwain and Barry Myers

In the turmoil and confusion following the War Between The States, Jeremy Preacher, late of Mosby’s Rangers, rode home to find his plantation burned to the ground, his parents slaughtered and his sister brutally raped and mutilated. The men responsible, elements of Quantrill’s Raiders, once led by Preacher’s older brother, were scattered to the four winds – safe from retribution. Or so they thought. Because in life there are two kinds of law – one is written in books, the other is written in blood. And the blood would flow. That was Preacher’s vow, that was Preacher’s law.

Out of money, out of luck and out for revenge, J.D. Preacher rode a bloody trail littered with the corpses of his enemies. There was no escaping his wrath; no mercy or rest for the guilty.

Like an angel of death, Preacher descended on the Black Hills hoping to find and shoot some of the men who had tortured and murdered his family. What he found was – competition. For he had landed smack in the middle of an all-out war between a golden-haired madman named Custer and several thousand Indians who were tired of being pushed around.

Most men would have ridden on, but for Preacher, peace was hell and war was the only trade he knew.

Blackmailed into working for Isaac Parker, the notorious hanging judge, J.D. Preacher found himself with a tin star on his chest and a whole lot of trouble on his hands. His job: bring in some of the thieving, murderous scum that were raping the territory and the judge would clear his name.

Preacher believed in justice at the end of a rope – but only when he was judge and jury. That was Preacher’s Law.

It was the end of the trail for J.D. Preacher. He had fought his way west to California leaving a string of bloody corpses behind him. He had been possessed by the need for revenge, but those fires were burning low. Time had blurred his sharp eyes and made his gun hand just a hair slower; his nerve, as always, was rock-steady, but he could feel the cold grave calling to him.

J.D. Preacher had one more gunfight left in him and he knew it wouldn’t be long until he had to face down the man who had made his life a living hell.

In the last gunfight, the first man to flinch was the loser; the last man to draw a breath, the winner. That’s the law of nature, that’s Preacher’s Law.

There were six of ‘em – a father and five sons – all snake-mean, all named Bascomb. They came up with a little plan that would make them rich for life – kidnap the daughter of General Demming and trade her for the money the army had stashed away in Ten Sleep, Wyoming.

Preacher, an unreconstructed Confederate soldier, had no love for the blue bellies, but he had a personal score to settle with the butchering Bascombs. The way Preacher figured it, the family that slayed together, stayed together – in the grave. That was Preacher’s Law.

J.D. Preacher was just a kid living on his family’s Tennessee plantation when he stumbled on the illegal slave-trading ring led by the notorious Fuller brothers. They didn’t think twice about killing anyone who got in their way, so young Preacher figured he was doing the world a favour when he gunned them down. What he didn’t count on was the sheriff – he was on the take, and what he wanted most was to take Preacher’s hide from his bones.

To escape the noose, Preacher had to ride the dangerous trail to Missouri where his kinsfolk could hide him out. But along the way he met up with Charles Barrington, the fastest draw in the West. Barrington taught Preacher everything he knew – then challenged the greenhorn to a showdown. If Preacher lost, no one would miss him – if he won, he’d spend the rest of his life defending his reputation as the West’s most dangerous gunman.

Forrest’s Raiders: “The most dangerous set of men this war has turned loose on the world!” – General Sherman.

“You’re damned right!” – J.D. Preacher

During the Civil War, General Nathan Forrest led a mixed bag of cutthroats, scouts, sharpshooters and renegades against numerically superior Union forces. He and his men cut a bloody swath through the Blue Coats, leaving a gore-laden trail of destruction behind them. They were all tough, wary veterans, but none was more daring and resourceful than J.D. Preacher. Son of a Southern aristocrat, he had put his life, his fortune and his honour on the line to stem the rising tide of Yankee aggression. That’s why he was double tough on war profiteers and low-down yellow bellies like James Brice who lived high off the misery of patriots. And when he uncovered a treasonous plot that Brice was hatching, he made up his mind to act. For there was only one thing Preacher hated worse than a traitor – and that was a live traitor.

The first book in the series appeared in 1987 and the last in 1989. I believe three different authors wrote these books. The first four books cover a vast period of time in the history of the West and the fourth brings about a spectacular end to J.D. Preacher's revenge trail. The following three books tell tales of Preacher’s earlier life. 

Monday 10 September 2012

California Killers

By Jon Sharpe
Signet, September 2012

Skye Fargo knows he’s in big trouble when he wakes up with a bullet in his body, a beauty by his bed – and absolutely no memory of who he is. But when a band of greedy land-grabbers threatens the woman who saved his life, the Trailsman remembers the only things that matter: how to draw fast, how to aim sure, and how to shoot to kill….

By page four there were already two questions that needed answers and they had me eagerly reading on to discover just what was going on. Unfortunately Jon Sharpe doesn’t believe in revealing those answers until he’d confused me even more with further strange goings on that lead to more questions, making this a very difficult book to put down.

The story begins with a man waking up not knowing who he is, who shot him and why. Anyone who has read any other Trailsman book will have no difficulty working out this man is Skye Fargo but what I really liked about this part of the story is that the author never calls him by name, in fact he takes on a new name for a while. How Fargo regains his memory put a massive grin on my face, and for anyone who doesn’t know the character of the Trailsman there’s lots of information on that as he struggles to remember who he is.

Once Fargo’s memory has return the unanswered questions remain, and as the story unfolds so the mysteries deepen. Who’s poisoning cattle? Who’s threatening miners? Why does the biggest rancher around want more land? Who is still attempting to kill the Trailsman? Why does one man say he knows but refuses to tell? And so it goes on…

The fast moving story is filled with tough talking men and a superbly draw villain, a killer whose killed an impressive amount of victims…and how these kills or carried out! Be prepared for some brutally graphic descriptions here. And when the killer threatens to take out Fargo’s Ovaro, the Trailsman goes from being mad to homicidal in his quest to save his horse. Great stuff indeed.

Jon Sharpe (this time around author David Robbins) really has come up with a terrific killer for this savage story. As usual there’s plenty of excellent sarcastic dialogue from a superb set of characters amid the almost non-stop action, and as the book gallops to its violent climax I had to start wondering just who would be left alive by the end.

California Killers is a story that really highlights many of the reasons that I keep returning to this series again and again, and is one that no Trailsman, or indeed David Robbins, fan should miss.

Friday 7 September 2012

The Lonely Widow

By Peter Brandvold
Mean Pete Press, August 2012

Gideon Hawk is once again in relentless pursuit.

This time he’s after the Bobcat Jack Bunch who robbed a stagecoach and ran it off a cliff, killing two innocent women and two innocent children.

Reminding him as it does of his own murdered son and his dead wife, that rubs Hawk the wrong way.

The Rogue Lawman hunts the gang like the merciless wolf he is. The blood trail leads him finally to an isolated mountain cabin, a fresh grave, and a lonely, beautiful young widow...

For those of us that have been waiting for a new Rogue Lawman story here’s a brand new short story to keep us going until Peter gets to write another full-length tale.

Here Hawk tracks down and deals with, in his own brutal way, a band of robbers and killers. It’s a gritty tale containing dark humour, savage action scenes and a twist to the tale, all told at a fast pace that makes for some gripping, entertaining reading.

For those who’ve never read a Rogue Lawman book, Peter Brandvold includes just enough background about Hawk’s past to explain why he does what he does. I’m sure that if this is your introduction to Hawk then after reading this you’ll be quickly tracking down the six books already out there (I believe Peter has already launched the first two as ebooks and that the others will follow soon).

Thursday 6 September 2012

Series and Sequels part 1

After being asked by a number of people which western series I have, and recently being asked if there is a list anywhere on the Internet – to which I could only say not to my knowledge, here is part one of a list of series that are (and in some cases have been) in my collection. The number of books indicates how many there are in each series, I use the term loosely so I can include books that have just one or two sequels, not how many I have.

I’d appreciate help in expanding this list in comments with corrections and by adding additional series, as it would be great to discover just how many series and books with sequels there has been. I’m not interested in adding modern westerns, romance westerns, and cross-genre westerns at this time.

by Justin Ladd – 16 books

by Marcus Galloway – 3 books

first 3 by Chet Cunningham rest by Chad Calhoun – 12 books

by Brian Fox – 6 books

by Ben Bridges – 3 books

by Jeff Sadler – 20+ books

ANGEL (aka Frank Angel, Federal Marshal) 
by Frederick H. Christian – 9 books

by W.B. Longley, later print by Robert J. Randisi – 9 books

by James Reno, later print by Kerry Newcomb – 5 books

by William M. James – 27 books

by Luke Adams – 4 books

by Frank Burleson – 6 books (ebook versions by Len Levinson)

by Carter West – 3 books (ebook versions by Ben Bridges)

by G.A. Carrington – 6 books

AULT, Sam 
by Frederic Bean – 3 books

BADGE (The) 
by Bill Reno – 24 books

BAKER, Herschel
by Dusty Richards - 4 books at time of posting

by Lance Howard – 2 books

by Kirk Hamilton – 45+ books

by D.B. Newton – 11 books

by Jory Sherman – 7 books

BASS, Titus 
by Terry C. Johnston – 9 books

by John S. Cord – 6 books

by Jack Curtis – 5 books

by E. Jefferson Clay – 35+ books

by Matt Chisholm – 12 books

BLAKE, Faro 
by Zeke Masters – 31 books

by Richard Parry – 3 books

by Marshal Grover – 10+ books

by William W. Johnstone (and with J.A. Johnstone) – 15 at time of posting

BLUE, Johnny 
by Joseph A. West – 2 books

by Arthur Moore – 10 books

by Neil Hunter – 6 books

by Cort Martin – 26 books

by Dean Owen – 2 books

by Stephen Calder – 6 books

by Douglas Hirt – 2 books

BOONE, Dan’l: The Lost Wilderness Years 
by Dodge Tyler – 12 books

by Joshua Randell, later print by Robert J. Randisi – 5 books

by Mike Newton – 2 books

by Wayne Gamble – 3 books

by Neil Hunter – 9 books

by Mike Stotter – 2 books

by Tom Ryan – 3 books

by Ed Newsom – 4 books

by Matt Braun – 4 books

by Stephen Bly – 7 books

by E. Jefferson Clay – 5 books

by James A. Muir – 22 books

by Ned Stone – 4 books

by Daniel St. James – 3 books

by William W. Johnstone with J.A. Johnstone – 3 books at time of posting

by Jonas Ward – 23 books

by Tex Larrigan – 2 books

first 12 by Roy Lebeau, rest by Kit Dalton – 52 books (42 regular sized books + 10 Giant Editions)

by Ralph Hayes – 7 books (3 under this series title)

by Ralph Cotton – 26 books at time of posting

by B.J. Lanagan – 9 books

by Bret Ray – 3 books

by Dusty Richards – 2 books at time of posting

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Big with Vengeance

By Cecil Snyder
Tandem, 1971

First published by Wingate, 1970

Klee had lost out twice – once when his farm was raided by Jeb Stuart’s men, and then again, later, and much harder, when he had to watch helplessly as a thousand Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho overran the wagons and his wife and step-daughter died horribly.

He was a man twice filled with hate – and with rage at himself because he had not been better able to defend his own. There was no room in him for anything else. He set himself to hate, and kill, and hate.

But no one really knows how to hate like an Indian…

This is a very powerful book. Klee isn’t a man you’ll like – but he is a fascinating character. Just why is he like he is and what motivates him? When did he become a cold-hearted killer? And what will happen to him?

Cecil Snyder describes landscapes and simple tasks beautifully, sometimes taking pages to paint his vivid imagery. Something that you might think a reader would get bored with, but such is his way with words you’ll find yourself immersed, swept up in his superb storytelling.

A lot of the story is told as flashbacks explaining what Klee was like before the loss of his wife and step-daughter, this savage act that sees him become a hunter of Indians who lives for nothing more than finding and killing them, be they man, woman or child. Yes this is a brutal story that contains acts that will horrify the reader, yet will compel you to read on. Can a new love change Klee back into the man he once was?

Snyder’s technique used for the flashbacks is worth mentioning; the main story is told in the third person, yet the chapters and passages that deal with the past are in italics and written in the second person. The different styles gel perfectly and add to the energy of the book.

There are many fascinating facts to be discovered too, mainly during the scenes dealing with Klee being taught how to survive in the wilderness; what plants he can eat for instance, or how to carry enough bullets to ensure he doesn’t run out in a life and death situation.

As you’ll see from the cover image this book won a Spur Award for best first novel (the book says in 1970 on the cover, but the Western Writers of America lists it as 1969) and it’s easy to see why it won this accolade.

I have no hesitation in saying this book has found it’s way onto my list of favourite westerns of all time. 

Saturday 1 September 2012

Wolf Creek #1: Bloody Trail

By Ford Fargo
Western Fictioneers, September 2012

The town of Wolf Creek is assaulted by a small army of former Confederate guerrillas, who rob the bank and leave dead innocents in their wake. Sheriff G.W. Satterlee and his posse must overtake the outlaws before they reach Indian Territory but the chase is complicated by the secret pasts of several posse members.

As most will know Western Fictioneers is an organisation made up of published western writers and this series is a group effort. Each author writes from the perspective of his or her own unique character, blended together into a single novel. 

Appearing as Ford Fargo in this volume: Clay More, James J. Griffin, Troy D. Smith, James Reasoner, L. J. Martin, & Cheryl Pierson.

Before beginning this book I did wonder whether it would flow together or seem like a number of short stories told by different authors about the same place and characters. Yes, the different writers styles are evident but the plot has been carefully thought out and each authors’ work joins together seamlessly.

Authors have two chapters in which to tell their part of the tale. A couple use one of them to flesh out the background of their characters, and Clay More, who opens the book, also explains the history of Wolf Creek. Clay More’s second chapter then moves up a gear in the action stakes as the town is attacked and you have to wonder if there will be anyone left alive by the end of chapter two.

The story then becomes a chase tale but this is complicated by the secrets of the posse members and animosities due to some having ridden for opposite sides during the Civil War. Some of the authors resolve these problems and reveal the secrets, others hint at them and leave things hanging for further novels.

And talking of the next books, I’ve been informed that book 2 is almost ready to be published, and books 3 and 4 are in development. On the strength of Bloody Trail I for one am eagerly looking forward to discovering the fates of the people of Wolf Creek.

If you’d like to find out more about the authors, their characters, and the town of Wolf Creek then you can do so here.

Available as paperback and ebook.