Friday 29 March 2013

Redemption: Trackdown

By James Reasoner
Berkley, March 2013

Marshal Bill Harvey puts his life at risk every day to protect the people of Redemption, Kansas. But there’s only one resident whose well-being comes before all else, and if you touch her, you’re as good as dead in his books…

Bill Harvey thought he had his hands full with the hot-headed Jesse Overstreet, a Texan like himself, who’d stumbled into town. But Overstreet is the least of his problems when Caleb Tatum and his gang sweep through town, cleaning folks out of every last penny. As a bonus, they make off with a beautiful hostage: Eden Harvey, Bill’s wife…

While Bill and his posse ride hard through Kansas to save Eden and the old buzzard Mordecai is left alone to police the town, a broken marriage turns violent and a suspicious gypsy spooks the townspeople. Mordecai desperately needs Bill to return. And he might just get his wish when the posse finds unexpected help from that fiery Texan, Overstreet. Bill will surely get back his beloved, at any cost…

At last the third book in James Reasoner’s excellent Redemption series is out and, like the previous two, it proves to be a gripping, first class, read.

Switching regularly between the various groups of characters, often leaving them in dangerous situations, James Reasoner urges you to keep reading to find out just what happens next, as it seems both Harvey and Mordecai are out of their depths, particularly the latter as a troubled marriage turns brutal and family members demand violent justice.

This fast-paced book provides excitement, believable characters and tense action scenes. It most definitely falls into the category of books you won’t be able to put down and closes with a neat little mystery about the identity of one of the main characters.

As with the first two books I highly recommend this to all fans of the western and hope that it isn’t too long before a fourth book appears.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Devil's Deal

By Lee Walker
Hale, March 2013

After barely surviving the Civil War, all Confederate sharp-shooter Ethan van Kirk wants is a quiet life on his homestead with his eight-year-old daughter, Lucy. Then a shadow from his past appears. Suddenly he is forced to use his deadly shooting skills again in a deal with the Devil. Ethan must kill an innocent man to save his daughter’s life.

And the clock is ticking….

This is Lee Walker’s third Black Horse Western and having read the previous two I was eager to read this.

The majority of the tale takes place during one morning, and Lee Walker creates an air of menace and tension superbly ensuring the reader will find this a very difficult book to put down before the end is reached. Ethan’s frantic struggle to save his daughter and not kill an innocent man seems destined to fail as he discovers those he thought were friends cannot be trusted and time is running out fast. Unknown to Ethan there are a couple a people trying to help but are they strong enough to do so? And even if they are can they act before the time Ethan has to squeeze the trigger?

I can’t really say more about the story without spoiling it for those who intend to read this book. What I will add is I’d highly recommend it to all who enjoy edge-of-the-seat plotlines that will have you guessing as to the books’ outcome. 

Lee Walker is a pseudonym used by Ed Ferguson and on the strength of this book and the two before it, this author has joined the top ranks of my favourite western writers.

Devil’s Deal is officially released tomorrow but is available now from the usual bookstores.

Monday 25 March 2013

Genesis Gunplay

By John Davage
Hale, March 2013

Cody McCade rides into Genesis looking to uncover the truth about the sudden disappearance of the town’s previous sheriff and the mystery of a young man’s homestead, razed to the ground just before his wedding.

But when up against local thugs and the powerful and deadly Shaw family he realizes it will take more than asking around to get any answers. And the townsfolk have another mystery on their hands: just who is Cody McCade and what brings him to Genesis?

Having read, and enjoyed, John Davage’s other Black Horse Westerns I’d been looking forward to this one for some time. After the first couple of short chapters I found myself hooked by the mystery elements, both those mentioned in the blurb above and more. Even as answers to some of those questions came to light, so more mysteries were triggered making this a very difficult book to put down – in fact I read it in one sitting as I was that eager to find out if it ended as I expected. Some story threads did and others didn’t.

Characters are well crafted, each having their own personality that makes you want to side with them, or see them get their comeuppance. As well as tough male roles John Davage also includes a number of strong females too, one of whom does something that sees McCade set to take the fall for it.

As you’ll have already gathered I found this to be an excellent read and once more I am left looking forward to his next book.

Genesis Gunplay has an official release date of March 28th but is available now from the usual Internet bookstores.

Sunday 24 March 2013

Spur Awards

The Western Writers of America have announced their Spur Award winners and those that apply to fiction are:

Jory Sherman is honored the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Best Western Short Novel was awarded to Matthew Mayo for Tucker's Reckoning.
Runners up were Lonesome Animals by Bruce Holbert and City of Rocks by Michael Zimmer.

Best Western Long Novel was awarded to Thomas Cobb for With Blood in their Eyes.
Runners up were The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin and Country of the Bad Wolfes by James Carlos Blake.

Best Original Mass Market Paperback was awarded to Larry Sweazy for The Coyote Tracker.
Runners up were Redemption: Hunters by James Reasoner and The Secret of Lodestar by Tim Champlin.


Best First Novel was awarded to Brett Cogburn for Panhandle.
Runners up were Wide Open by Larry Bjornson and The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin.


A full list of all categorys and winners can be found here.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Bounty Hunt

By Jon Sharpe
Signet, March 2013

Skye Fargo is in the Rocky Mountain town of Meridian, where he receives a most unusual offer. A woman wants Fargo to track down a local citizen who’s terrorizing the territory. The outlaw’s name? Cord Blasingame, and he just happens to be her husband. And while the Trailsman will be doing all the shooting, his beautiful client will be playing an even more perilous part – as bait for the brutal Blasingame!

This story pits Fargo against a man who just may be better at tracking and killing than the Trailsman, a half-breed who rides with Blasingame named Niyan, making for some tense confrontations between the two.

There are other great characters too, the lawman, Cripdin, who Fargo can’t respect, and the women, one of whom uses her sex appeal to lure the Trailsman into a position so she can kill him so she can protect Blasingame…..and this so called outlaw seems to be admired by many. This fact soon had me wondering as to which Blasingame was truly the victim or the aggressor? Was Fargo working for the correct side?

Jon Sharpe is a pseudonym, and the author writing behind that name this time around is David Robbins. One of the things I like about his writing is you can never be sure just who will be left alive at the end of his books and this one sure kept me guessing as to who that would be, if any, as the truth about certain characters is slowly revealed.

The story races along at an ever increasing pace, is filled with cracking dialogue and hard hitting action, one of the deaths near the end being particularly gruesome and graphically described. All this adds up to this being another great book in the Trailsman series.

Sunday 17 March 2013

FREE - Shooter's Cross

Today and tomorrow is your chance to get a free Kindle copy of the first book in the excellent Rancho Diablo series by Colby Jackson, Shooter's Cross.

Colby Jackson is a pseudonym shared by three well known writers; Bill Crider, Mel Odom and James Reasoner.

At the moment there are eight books in the series and if you've not tried them yet then don't miss this opportunity. You can read my review of the book on offer here.

Tuesday 12 March 2013

The Trail West

By William W. Johnstone with J.A. Johnstone
Pinnacle, February 2013

In 1848, Dooley Monahan, son of struggling Iowa pioneers, went off to pick up a new milk cow. Young Dooley never came home. Now, nearly three decades later, Dooley Monahan has become an accidental legend, managing to plant a bullet in the chest of a dangerous outlaw. All Dooley really wants is to claim his reward at a bank in Phoenix and make his way north to a gold strike he read about in a newspaper. But fate has other plans. It starts with a family slaughtered by Apaches, a dog smarter than most humans Dooley knows, and a girl with a wounded soul. And the blood-hungry brothers of the outlaw Dooley killed will not give up their pursuit until they’ve avenged his death.

The farther Dooley tries to head north, destiny pushes him west. His trail is populated by strange friends and dangerous enemies, strewn with bad luck and bad blood – and frequently interrupted by sudden storms of gunfire.

I’ve always liked westerns starring an older main character and Dooley Monahan definitely falls into that category. He struggles with the aches and pains of both old age and old wounds. He also suffers with bouts of memory loss that sees him with no recollection of who he is, what he’s doing, and of who those he rides with are. These failings, combined with his strengths, make him all too human and easy to identify with.

The author also teams Dooley up with a couple of excellent trail companions, Sweeney, a young man with nowhere to go, the even younger girl, Julia, with a heart-breaking past, and, not forgetting, Blue, the dog that adopts Dooley and makes this a western that all dog lovers should find irresistible.

The story follows a meandering trail that sees this small group of people thrust into all kinds of deadly situations, and, at times, touches on some very dark themes, such as that that Julia is running from.

The end is both downbeat and uplifting and came as a surprise, leaving me hoping it won’t be too long before Dooley rides the trail again (the book has been announced as the first in a new series), and I feel confident in saying that I’m sure the Johnstone’s have another best seller on their hands.

Saturday 9 March 2013

War Paint

By W.R. Benton
Loose Cannon Ent. February 2013 (ebook)

First printed as a paperback by Dancing Fox Publications, January 2013

George Alwood III, is a spoiled and rich young man who heads west to become a mountain man in 1825. Taken under wing by two experienced old mountain men, George Alwood the third becomes Bear Killer the mountain man. After a short visit with Shoshoni Indians, Bear Killer finds himself with an unwanted wife and though he resist's, he eventually learns to love her. A cold and hard winter in the mountains brings him closer to his bride, as he learns to live as a mountain man, and just before spring she informs him a child will soon come. Content now, with a canvas shelter, campfire, dried meat, and soon to be family, Bear Killer reflects on his rich and pampered background. 

After his wife and unborn child are killed by white men, the young mountain man makes a promise to avenge their deaths and he's swept up into a deep sense of rage. He finds, however, the men he is searching for are hard men to pin down and even harder to kill.

W.R. Benton is a new author to me and a quick search reveals he’s had a number of books published before this one also featuring mountain men. This story proves he is very knowledgeable about life in that period. The tale includes lots of factual information about trapping, different tribes and, in particular, medicines and doctoring of the time. None of this comes across as being explained by a teacher explaining the hows and whys, but instead fits smoothly within the tale, becoming a natural part of the storyline.

George makes for an engaging hero and it’s fascinating to see how he changes from being green to an experienced mountain men. There are plenty of other great characters too, such as the two men who take him under their wing and teach him how to survive.

Action scenes are well described and the more graphic paragraphs tend to be reserved for the doctoring of the wounded. The story develops well and I found myself sharing the frustrations Bear Killer felt as bad weather forces delays in tracking the men he so desperately wants to bring to justice.

At the finish of the book I couldn’t help hoping that Bear Killer will return in the future. In the meantime I reckon I’ll be checking out some of W.R. Benton’s previous novels.

The book includes two glossaries, one each for mountain man and medical terms.

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Thunder Wagon

By James Reasoner
Harper, August 1994

Big trouble is brewing in Wind River. The Irish are up in arms as the Chinese arrive from California to work on the railroad and the friendly Shoshone stand accused of stealing cattle. Wild talk of gold sends settlers rushing into the Wind River Mountains as the army arrives to protect the railroad and strong-arm the Indians into honouring their treaties.

As enraged railroaders launch a disastrous attack against the Shoshone, and the cavalry thunders towards a catastrophic confrontation, only Marshal Cole Tyler and his deputy Billy Casebolt can track down the real culprits – a vicious gang of saboteurs hell-bent on lighting a fuse that will set off a bloody massacre.

This book is almost non-stop action from beginning to end. Marshal Cole Tyler doesn’t have a chance to catch his breath as one deadly situation immediately follows another.

James Reasoner does manage to find time to develop Tyler’s relationships, for better or worse, with the various characters who inhabit Wind River and its surrounding area, some of whom readers of this series will have already met in the first book Wind River

Greed and acting before the true facts are known are the main driving forces behind the problems Tyler has to deal with, such as the arrival of a Chinese family and the subsequent strike by the railroad workers which in turn leads to mob violence. There’s also the muggings that sees the victims lose and ear, cut off for a gruesome trophy – who is the culprit and what is their motivation?

There’s an exciting race against time as Tyler and his deputy try desperately to stop the massacre of the Shoshones by proving someone else is behind the killings being blamed on them, but who and why?

All the main story threads come to a satisfying end but the author expertly leaves one or two hanging thus ensuring the reader will pick up the next book, Wolf Shadow, as I definitely will, to find out what happens next.

Note: This book has now been released as an ebook under its true authorship names of James Reasoner and L.J. Washburn. (The original publisher wanted just one author name on the cover)

Monday 4 March 2013

Series and Sequels part 6

Here's the sixth part of the list of western series and sequels that I have, or have had, in my collection. You can find the previous parts by clicking the title in tags at the end of this post.

by J.D. Hardin – 42 books

by Bart Shane – 3 books

by Franklin Carter – 4 books

by Tim McGuire – 6 books

by Will McLennan – 18 books

by Thorne Douglas – 5 books

by Colby Jackson – 8 books at time of posting

RAND, Big Jim 
by Marshal Grover – 65+ books

by Dan Mason – 8 books

by B.J. Holmes – 6 books

by James Reasoner – 3 books at time of posting

by Dale Colter – 12 books

by James Calder Boone – 7 books

by Leonard Meares – 4 books

by Charles Ballew – 20+ books

by Douglas Hirt – 3 books

by various authors – 20 books

by Richard S. Wheeler – 3 books

by Peter Brandvold – 6 books

ROPER, Talbot 
by Robert J. Randisi – 1 book at time of posting

by Peter Brandvold – 1 book at time of posting

by Cole Weston – 9 books

by R.C. House – 5 books

by Brian Fox – 2 books

by Louis L’Amour – 17 books

by Clint Hawkins – 8 books

by Gene Curry – 7 books

by E. Jefferson Clay – 12+ books

by Jory Sherman – 5 books

by William W. Johnstone with J.A. Johnstone – 2 books at time of listing

by Ian Anderson – 7 books

SCOUT (The) 
by Buck Gentry – 34 books

by Josh Edwards – 12 books

by W.L. Fieldhouse – 2 books

by Chris Adam Smith – 4 books

by Jory Sherman – 3 books

by Cole Shelton – 25+ books

by Charles E. Friend – 7 books

by Jay D. West – 4 books

by Tobias Cole – 3 books

by Paul Ledd – 33 books

by Lauran Paine – 5 books

by Phil Dunlap – 3 books at time of posting

by Dalton Walker – 8 books

by Jory Sherman – 4 books 

by William W. Johnstone with J.A. Johnstone – 6 books at time of posting

by Max Brand – 7 (?) books

SIX, Jeremy 
by Brian Wynne – 10 books

by John Langley – 12+ books

(last 2 as Six-Gun Warrior) 
by Patrick Lee – 8 books

by Richard S. Wheeler – 19 books at time of posting

by Link Pennington – 3 books

SLADE, Walt 
by Bradford Scott – 115 books

by Jackson Cain – 5 books

by Steven C. Lawrence – 10 books

by E.B. Majors – 4 books

by Steve Lee – 2 books

by Jake Logan – 409 books and 17 Giant Editions at time of posting

by Terry C. Johnston – 3 books

by Robert J. Randisi – 3 books

by Tom Early – 6 books (The first 3 have since been republished as by Elmer Kelton)

by Don Coldsmith – 28 regular sized books and 3 super editions

SPUR, Sam 
by Cy James (one as by Matt Chisholm) – 9 books

by Dirk Fletcher – 45 books and 10 Giant Editions (after three books the series was restarted at number one again)

STACK, Ellis 
by Frank Fields – 3 books

by Hank Mitchum – 52 books

by Tom W. Blackburn – 5 books

by Bernard Cornwell – 4 books

by Matt Braun – 8 books

by Ray Hogan – 24 books

by Chet Cunningham (a reprinting has them as by Jess Cody) – 6 books

by George G. Gilman – 49 books

by Peter Brandvold – 8 books

STONE, Jack 
by J.D. Kincaid – 18+ books

by Matt Chisholm – 9 books

STRANGE, Danielle 
by Ralph Compton and Ralph Cotton – 4 books

by Lou Cameron – 15 books

1 – 10 by Oliver Strange, 11 – 15 by Frederick H. Christian – 15 books

by Ralph Cotton – 3 books

by John Benteen, Jack Slade and Peter McCurtain – 43 books

by Leo P. Kelley – 9 books