Sunday 28 April 2013

Night of the Gunslinger

By I.J. Parnham
Hale, April 2013

With the town marshal laid up with a broken leg, Deputy Rick Cody must stand alone to protect New Town during a night of mayhem. At sunup Edison Dent will stand trial for Ogden Reed’s murder and although Rick suspects that Edison is innocent, he also reckons his own sister knows more than she’s prepared to reveal.

With Rick having only one night to uncover the truth, his task is made harder when the outlaw Hedley Beecher plots to free the prisoner while Ogden’s brother Logan vows to kill Edison and anyone who stands in his way. Within an hour of sundown four men are dead. And so begins the longest and bloodiest night of Rick’s life….

I’ve always enjoyed stories that take place over a short period of time, and here Ian Parnham does just that; with everything happening during one night.

As expected from this author there are plenty of twists and turns to the tale, such as how does one man predict that before the night ends Rick Cody will face four trials: of air, fire, water and earth? It’s not only this that kept me guessing but also the outcome of the deadly games a married couple are playing against each other.

Characters are well crafted and descriptions of action are very vivid – especially the trial by water (I’d like to explain more, but won’t as I don’t want to give anything away). The story is told at a fast pace that never slackens and the plot offers plenty of surprises.

So, once again, Ian Parnham has written an exciting and entertaining book that has me eagerly looking forward to his next.

Night of the Gunslinger is officially published on April 30th but is available now.

Thursday 25 April 2013

Wyoming Winterkill

By Jon Sharpe
Signet, April 2013

At a remote trading post, Fargo almost falls victim to a lethal trap that has already claimed too many. The only survivor is little Jessie Cavanaugh – and she herself was promised a fate worse than death at the hands of savage Blackjack Tar. The Trailsman knows what he has to do: Track down the killers responsible…and give them a hot-lead farewell.

With its cliff-hanger chapter endings, cracking dialogue, superbly drawn characters of both sexes and story pace that’ll take your breath away, this book proves to be impossible to put down before the end is reached.

The story is filled with twists and turns, in both the trail it takes and to the identity of a couple of the characters, and it’s at the hands of one of these that Fargo nearly meets his death.

Fight scenes are very visual and fairly graphic, one of the descriptions of what had happened to one of the characters making me cringe.

As well as trying to keep himself alive, Fargo also has to deal with Jessie Cavanaugh who sees him as a replacement parent.

The Trailsman books have always been action packed and this one is no different, so how does Jon Sharpe – in this case David Robbins writing behind the pseudonym –  top the frequent exchanges of gunfire? Why, finish it with one hell of a gun battle that sees Fargo taking on far superior odds in a brutal showdown that is full of tension and excitement – the face-off between Fargo and Tar that starts this final fight is some of the most gripping reading I’ve read for a long time.

Another great entry in this long running series that perfectly illustrates why I keep coming back for more.

Tuesday 23 April 2013

The Proclaimers

By Lee Clinton
Hale, April 2013

A drunken dispute between two young cowboys ends in a violent death. What follows is a vengeful father’s spiteful desire for retribution by making a public proclamation that he will pay $10.000 to any person who will give him justice. However, a jury has acquitted the young man who shot his son of any wrongdoing.

The family attorney, who was tasked to raise the proclamation that seeks Biblical justice of an eye for an eye, is so horrified by this vindictive act that he takes it upon himself to save the father from his own despicable behaviour. He enlists the help of Walter Garfield – a man whom some would say is well past his prime. But while Walt may be getting a little old and more than a little cantankerous, he is still a man of the Old West.

As the last days of the nineteenth century come to a close, maybe, just maybe, this old ex-marshal is the only one who can save the young cowboy from those who will kill on sight just to get their hands on the vast reward that is on offer by proclamation….

Lee Clinton turns in another of the longer books published under the Black Horse Western tag, with more words per line, and more lines per page than one normally expects from a BHW. His short chapters, around two or three pages long, are all titled and start just a few lines down from the end of the previous chapter rather than on a new page. All this means is that Lee Clinton has plenty of time to develop both characters and storyline.

The opening killing takes place off screen so to speak, thus the reader doesn’t know what really happened and the following court case is enthralling because of this as the truth is sort.

There isn’t a lot of gun action during the first half or so of the book but the hunt to either kill or protect the acquitted young cowboy is gripping enough to keep the reader turning the pages to find out if he can escape death, and even if he does how can the proclamation be ended? I will add here that there is plenty of gunplay towards the end that should satisfy all of us that enjoy gunfights and the effects of which are often described graphically.

Lee Clinton (real name Leigh Alver) ties everything up neatly and I found myself once again looking forward to his next book.

The Proclaimers is officially released on April 30th but is available now from the usual Internet bookstores.

Sunday 21 April 2013

A chance to get published

Lady Valkyrie are looking for new submissions of westerns.

Check their site for more details.

Wednesday 17 April 2013


by J.R. Roberts
Jove, April 2013

Clint Adams does not do interviews. So, when a writer from New York tracks Clint down in Denver for a story, he refuses to talk. That is, until he learns that the writer is looking to report on Clint’s old friend, Wild Bill Hickok – and to paint Bill as a coward.

The writer is claiming that most men Wild Bill killed were shot in the back, making Bill sound like some no-good snake. Clint won’t stand for Bill’s reputation to be dragged through the mud. He’d rather break his own rule and sit down with the writer to tell the true story, for once and for all. But to preserve the legacy of one James Butler Hickok, Clint might have to open some old wounds and share some tales he never thought he’d tell…

For all fans of the Gunsmith series, particularly those who’ve read the early books, this giant edition is a must read as it tells the tale of how Clint Adams first met Wild Bill Hickok.

J.R. Roberts switches neatly from the present to various times in the Gunsmith’s past to relate incidents in Wild Bill’s past that Clint Adams also found himself involved in, such as Hickok’s first time on Buffalo Bill’s stage. 

Of course the present day story has its own troubles as it seems there are people interested in the writer and the book he is working on, but why?

The story is told in the fast paced style we’ve come to expect from J.R. Roberts (author Robert J. Randisi), being dialogue driven, with bursts of quick-fire action. Chapters are short, two or three pages long on average, and switch regularly from character to character.

Overall, I’d say this is a book that should be enjoyed by all western fans who like their stories to contain real people and don’t mind a bit of graphic sex in their reading material. Me? I’m looking forward to the next giant and in the meantime will be digging out some of the regular sized books I’ve yet to read. 

Saturday 13 April 2013

Series and Sequels part 7

This is the seventh, and final part, of the list of series and sequel books I have in my collection (or have had). Of course I am always adding to this and rarely revoming anything these days, even though space is becoming a problem.

There are also many series I have never picked anything up from but who knows, maybe one day....and then there's the rapid growth in ebook series to consider....

by Bill Crider – 2 books

by Mike Jameson – 4 books

by Tom Lord (later reprinted as by Matt Braun) – 3 books

by Dusty Richards – 3 books

by G. Clifton Wisler – 4 books

by Gene Shelton – 4 books

by Gene Shelton – 5 books

by Cotton Smith – 1 book

by Tom Calhoun – 6 books

by Zach Wyatt – 5 books

THORN, Caleb
by L.J. Coburn – 5 books

by Tim Champlin – 4 (?) books

TILDEN, Hayden 
by J. Lee Butts – 6 books

by Robert Dyer – 3 books

by William W. Johnstone and with J.A. Johnstone – 4 books

by Samuel P. Bishop – 3 books

by Tom Cutter (reprint by Robert J. Randisi) – 7 books

by D.R. Bensen – 7 books

by Ralph Compton and with various other authors – 24 (?) books

by Jon Sharpe – 378 books plus 7 Giant Editions at time of posting

by Hal Jons – 3 books

by Lou Cameron – 3 books

TREE SAGA, Ben (The) 
by Paul A. Hawkins – 3 books

by Shirlaw J. Rogers – 5 books

by Matt Jordan – 2 books at time of posting (ebooks as by Neil Hunter)

by Cameron Judd – 3 books

by George G. Gilman – 6 books

VIGILANTE (The) by Jory Sherman – 3 books

by Dana Fuller Ross – 24 books

WALES, Josey 
by Forrest Carter – 2 books

by Bill Dugan – 5 books

by Scott Siegel – 4 books

WEST, Elijah 
by Link Hullar – 3 books

by Eric Allen – 5 books

by Jake McMasters – 10 books

by Donald Clayton Porter – 28 books

by E.J. Hunter – 24 books

by Robert J. Randisi – 2 books

by Judd Cole – 8 books

by Ben Bridges – 5 books

by David Thompson – 66 books and 7 Giant Editions at time of posting

by Jack Hanson – 8 books

WILKE, Harrison 
by Frank Roderus – 3 books

by Giles Tippette – 7 books

by James Reasoner – 6 books + 1 ebook at time of posting

by Donald Clayton Porter – 3 books

by Lance Howard – 2 books

by Larry D. Sweazy – 5 books at time of posting

by Lee Davis Willoughby – 8 books

WYATT, Luke 
by Mike Skinner – 4 books

by Russ Kidd – 2 books

YOUNG, Wilson 
by Giles Tippette – 9 books

by Russell Smith – 3 books

by Leonard F. Meares – 2 books

Monday 8 April 2013

The Nations

By Ken Farmer and Buck Stienke
Timber Creek Press, August 2012

THE NATIONS also known as "Indian Territory", "Robber's Roost" and "No-Man's Land", was regarded in the latter part of the 19th century as the bloodiest and most dangerous place in the world. It was a refuge for outlaws from all over the North American continent. There were only 200 Deputy U.S. Marshals made up of whites, blacks and Indian to police the vast area of 74,000 square miles under Federal Judge Issac C. Parker, known as the hanging judge. 

It is the year 1885. A notorious band of outlaws, known as the "Larson Gang", has been terrorizing Arkansas, Missouri and the Nations for years. When they kill five Deputy Marshals while rescuing Ben Larson, the vicious younger brother of the leader Wes Larson--it is too much for Judge Parker. He orders an all-out concerted effort to capture the Larson Gang and bring them to justice. "If they will not respect the law; then by God we will make them fear it."

This book is based on truth and the authors tell the story extremely well. The opening chapters follow the Larson Gang as they commit a number of violent atrocities which lead to Judge Parker sending Marshal Bass Reeves to round them up. The story then tells of the lawmen's attempts to track down and capture the gang. Other real-life characters have a part to play too, such as Belle Starr and Bud Ledbetter.

Backgrounds of the characters blend smoothly into this fast flowing tale and become a natural part of the story without coming across as bland historical passages. Dialogue is believable and often laced with humour. But for me the action sequences are particularly well done – and there are many of them – as much powder is burnt and lead flies wildly, missing its target more than hitting it. The authors don’t hold back when the bullets strike though, describing it brutally and graphically.

This is Ken Farmer and Buck Stienke’s first western and I can only hope it won’t be too long before they write another. If you like your westerns brimming with authenticity and hard-hitting action then I’d suggest you give this a try. 

Thursday 4 April 2013

Chaparral Range War

By Dusty Richards
Berkley, February 2013

When the Texas legislature decided to stop paying its Rangers, Phil Guthrey knew it was time to move on to greener pastures. As he rides into the Arizona Territory, he finds a slew of criminals running free – thanks to the Crook County’s no-good sheriff. With reports of rape, arson, theft, fatal shoot-outs, and foul play, Guthrey decides to make it his mission to rehabilitate Crook County, not to mention capture the heart of the spunky Cally Bridges.

As Guthrey sets out to bring to justice the men terrorizing his new home, he knows he must ultimately find a way to uproot Sheriff Killion if he wants to clean up the county for good. The fight will be long and hard, but for a former Texas Ranger like Guthrey, getting your hands dirty is just part of the job…

Dusty Richards soon had me hooked as I wanted to find out if Guthrey could achieve his aims of cleaning up Crook County as it seemed his upcoming marriage could get it the way – would one have to be sacrificed for the other? Dusty Richards also creates an air of impending doom over Guthrey’s future with Cally and I found myself wondering if she’d be alive at the end…of course I can’t reveal the answer to that question here.

There isn’t a lot of gun action as most of the plot is based around getting the required number of votes so Guthrey can become the new sheriff and round up all the known criminals to the letter of the law. This all has to be timed to perfection or lawlessness could take control of Crook County, and it’s this race against time that captured my interest and kept me reading.

Dusty Richards has been writing westerns for a long time now, under both his own name and pseudonyms. He’s a Spur Winning author, and, as expected, his experience shows in creating an excellent set of characters and his writing style is extremely readable.

This book has been billed as the first in a new series but as of this moment I haven’t seen any dates for the next one.

Monday 1 April 2013


By Steve Hayes
Hale, March 2013

Bounty hunter Latigo Rawlins was looking to start a whole new life with young Emily Mercer, but Stillman Stadtlander had other plans for him. Latigo had given evidence to prove that Stadtlander had paid to have some rival Mexican ranchers killed, and now Stadtlander intends to see him pay for his betrayal, at the end of a rope.

It doesn’t matter to Emily that Latigo is wanted for more than a dozen killings of his own. She is in love, and because of that she’ll move heaven, earth and everything in between to save the life of the man she plans to marry.

She might just do it, too, for she had powerful allies in a man known only as Drifter ... and his gun-swift friend, Ezra Macahan. Then there was a lady marshal named Liberty, who was to influence Emily in a way no one could have foreseen.

I’ve not read any of Steve Hayes books before, other than a shared authorship title written with David Whitehead, and this story makes me wish I had. Latigo seems to be a continuation of his previous book, El Diablo (not that you need to have read that before this to enjoy it), and further checking seems to point to all his westerns being linked by various characters or places.

Steve Hayes has a background as a screenwriter and has worked on some of the classic TV western series such as How the West was Won, The Westerner, Gunsmoke and High Chaparral. Check here to find out more about Steve.

As one would expect from someone with so much experience this story proves to be well structured, moves forwards at a terrific pace, throws in a surprise or two – for instance the death of one of the main characters that leads to an excellent twist – and is filled with action. All this written in a very easy to read style.

On finishing this book I was left looking forward to his next, She Wore a Badge, which comes out in July and I'm also eager to dig out the other books by Steve I have in my collection.