Thursday 27 June 2013

The Preacher's Legacy

By Walter L. Bryant
Hale, June 2013

Tom Deegan’s fight for survival begins when he rescues a child from a burning stagecoach, held up by the murdering preacher and his gang. The preacher dies and Tom takes the loot and hides it.

Years later three killers are looking for Tom, and the money. But protecting himself, and his adopted son Billy, is only made more difficult by the local rancher, whose hired guns want Tom dead. By using his fighting skills can he protect them both? And can he remain silent about the whereabouts of the cash?

After enjoying Walter L. Bryant’s first Black Horse Western, Nine Dead Men, I guess it was inevitable that I’d read this one.

The hunt for the missing money is played out against a backdrop of a land-grab plot, this latter element of the tale giving Deegan a few more enemies to worry about. He gets involved in this by rescuing a farmer and this leads to some romantic interest between Deegan and the farmers' daughter. Only trouble is her brother was killed during that long ago stage robbery whilst Tom looked on which is something she might not be able to ignore.

Walter L. Bryant tells his story from the point-of-view of different characters. Bounty hunter Slim being one of my favourites, he will do anything to get his hands on the missing money and he is the one who will cause most of the problems for Deegan. 

The story is told well and the plot moves forward rapidly. There’s plenty of action which includes a couple of great, tense, scenes involving bluff’s with empty guns.

So, once again, Walter L. Bryant presents the reader with a very entertaining read and, in my case, leaves me looking forward to his next.

The Preacher’s Legacy is officially released tomorrow but is already available from the usual Internet bookstores.

Monday 24 June 2013

A Storm in Montana

By Will DuRey
Hale, June 2013

Clancy Jarrett possesses a quick and violent temper and the citizens of Brannigan are careful not to cross him. But when his stagecoach hold-up is thwarted by three trail-herders his rage cannot be contained and with revenge on his mind soon there are bodies piling up. For the cowboys, their status as heroes is short-lived and when Jarrett learns they are escorting Kate Jeavons, a dance-hall girl whose sister he has captive, to testify against him, they are firmly in his sights.

Black clouds are forming overhead, but which storm will break first: the wild prairie rain, or the deadly guns of Jarrett and his crew?

A Storm in Montana is Will DuRey’s fifth Black Horse Western but only the second I’ve read, the previous one being In the High Bitterroots, and like that book I found this to be an equally entertaining read.

Once the two surviving cowboys team up with Kate Jeavons the book becomes a chase story, with the three of them trying to stay one step ahead of Jarrett and his men, and there is unrest among this group of outlaws. This isn’t the only plot thread, for there’s also a lawman heading in their direction who has problems of his own. 

There’s lots of well-written action and not all of the main characters will escape being on the wrong end of a bullet or two. In fact, as the story raced to its end, I did start to wonder if any of them would be alive by the last page.

A Storm in Montana is officially released on June 28th but is available now from the usual Internet sources.

Friday 21 June 2013

Confessions of a Gunfighter

By Tell Cotten
Solstice Publishing, November 2012

Texas, 1871. This is the first person tale of Rondo Landon, gunfighter. His Pa gave him the ivory-handled Colt and Ben Kinrich taught him how to use it.

Rondo is a troubled gunfighter with quite a past. Recognized by his six-gun, he is known for robbing banks, stagecoaches, payrolls, and for rustling cows. Now, locked in a jail, it looks like Rondo will be facing a long prison term, or worse. But, before that happens, he has a few stories to set straight.

At first this story seems to be a series of unrelated incidents as Rondo loses his home, then his family and begins to roam aimlessly until a chance meeting with Kinrich leads to him becoming a notorious outlaw. But it isn’t long before Rondo sickens of the killing of innocents and tries to forge a new life, and it’s during this time that his paths cross again and again with people from his past often resulting in pain and death that further mould Rondo’s personality.

Tell Cotten writes an easy to read and fast moving story full of terrific characters and exciting action. I enjoyed seeing how Rondo went from being a lost youngster into a confident gunfighter, and witnessing his efforts to control his rage and struggle with the choices life throws into his path, such as turning himself in for his crimes even though this could mean facing a hangman’s rope.

As the story races towards its climax Rondo will face his demons and have to make a tough decision about the daughter of the rancher he works for. 

This story should be enjoyed by all western readers (there’s isn’t any graphic sex or violence), and I have no hesitation in recommending it.

Confessions of a Gunfighter is available as both a paper book and an ebook. 

Those who have already read this book may like to know that book 2 in the Landon saga, Entwined Paths, has just been released.

Monday 17 June 2013

Cover Gallery: Amos Flagg

By Clay Randall

“I’m the Sheriff,” Amos said to the stranger. “You got business with me?”

“I guess you could call it that. I’m your old man! I’m Gunner Flagg, boy!”

Amos stared. Gunner was a thief, a bandit, a highwayman and a killer. He had swindled gullible pilgrims from Sonora to Kansas. In fact, there wasn’t much in the book of outlawry that Gunner hadn’t tried and yet there he sat grinning.

“As far as I’m concerned,” Amos told him, “you are another striper fresh out of prison. I don’t want you in this town. You’re filthy. I don’t want to be reminded that Gunner Flagg is my old man. Get out.”

But Gunner would stay, Amos knew – as surely as he knew that the day would come when he would have to gun down his own father.

The four most notorious killers in Texas Territory had drifted into Sangaree County from different directions – quietly, singly, carefully. And now they were gathered together in a stretch of bad-land, a mean little cutback running between No Man’s Land and Indian Territory.

Rumours said they were there to make a deal with Amos Flagg, in exchange for protection from the law.

But the four gunmen knew you couldn’t make any deals with a damn fool like Flagg.

The only place you could handle Flagg was on his own ground, and the only way you could do it was to lure him into ambush, strip him of his badge, and kill him.

This time it was the end for Flagg. This time his enemies finally found a man willing to grab Flagg’s badge away from him – the man who was Flagg’s best friend.

And just to make sure, they sent Flagg on a chase that took him far from town – and just to make doubly sure, at the other end of the trail they put some men who had only one mission: stop Flagg. Stop him and make sure he never got back.

Twenty years before, a kid named Danny Lee had saved the life of Amos Flagg’s old man, jailbird Gunner Flagg. Gunner never forgot…

Fifteen years later, Amos Flagg shot and killed a rustler named Brady. But that was everyday work for a sheriff in the Texas Panhandle, and Amos forgot about it.

Brady’s woman didn’t forget. She vowed revenge, and when she had finally saved enough money, she sent for the fastest, slickest killer money could buy.

She hired Danny Lee. Kill Amos Flagg, she told him.

Danny Lee had never left a job undone. He was the best bushwhacker there was, a real professional…

Amos Flagg was a good sheriff, tough as leather and mean as a hungry bear. The town figured he was due for some official recognition. Amos Flagg Day.

But they had reckoned without one of two things. First off, there was Ike Krug, who hated to see anyone honoured above himself. So he organised a river of whisky, got together a few people to drink it and called it a wedding.

Second off, Billy Jowett was a mite fed-up. Hell, Krug had just stolen his girl, and something had to be done about that.

So – with both sides hiring out-of-state hotrods to do their vengeance killings, Amos Flagg was so busy trying to escape the flying lead that he didn’t have time to enjoy his Day.

Amos Flagg sat like stone. I want your badge, the judge had said. It was like saying ‘I want your life’ – one helluva price to pay for being right.

And Amos had been right. About the new marshal, about the Slater widow, and about a whole lot of things. Only now, for the town’s sake, he hoped he’d been wrong.

Ottie Spain had been a thorn in Flagg’s side from the start. Arrogant, boastful, conceited, and above all, ambitious. He saw himself as the greatest marshal alongside Earp. And Flagg certainly didn’t fit in his setup. Ottie wasn’t after help. He wanted a reputation and a chance to prove his worth – he got both by gunning down Ab Slater.

Men with reputations live as long as their guns speak the fastest. And with the Slater widow screaming vengeance, and the town crawling with killer, it looked like Ottie’s gun was in for a spade of talking. And Flagg wasn’t sure if he liked it that way.

First published in America by Fawcett during the 1960's it wasn't long before they were published in the UK by Coronet and these are the covers shown above. Clay Randall was a pseudonym used by Clifton Adams.

The books were also published under the series title of Texas Lawman. This printing put the books out in a different order, for instance book 5 became book 6, and in the case of this particular book it also had a title change, the cover of which you can see below.

Friday 14 June 2013

Texas Tornado

By Jon Sharpe
Signet, June 2013

Fargo’s decision to break a beautiful young woman out of jail lands him behind bars as well – and in the crosshairs of a deadly marshal and a crooked mayor, who’s acting as the judge and jury. Faced with the prospect of serving years doing hard labor, Fargo leads a prison break. But soon he’s on his way back into town after Alice Thorn, a former prisoner with revenge on her mind and his Henry rifle in her hands. To get his rifle back, Fargo is going to have to walk smack-dab into the middle of her murderous revenge – and leave a few dead bodies in his wake.

This book sees Fargo pitted against a man who just may be faster with his guns than the Trailsman himself. Alice Thorn is another character that will stick in the mind for a long time, an innocent, almost frail, looking girl who is a vicious and deadly problem that could prove to be the death of the Trailsman.

Alice isn’t the only great female in this fast moving tale, Gwendolyn Stoddard is memorable too, her high-and-mighty ways bringing their own problems that could also lead to the Trailsman’s end.

Fargo’s smart, sarcastic comments that provide many laughs for the reader, could also be his undoing, as even as he knows he should keep his mouth shut he just can’t help himself and it could just be he’s making the wrong man mad this time.

The story builds at a terrific pace and Fargo’s frustration and anger rises along with it and you just know when he reaches boiling point that quick-fire killing is going to be the result and Jon Sharpe (this time David Robbins writing behind that pseudonym) has a superb surprise waiting in how one of the main characters dies and an unforeseen revelation during this beautifully written scene that adds a great twist to the tale.

Tuesday 11 June 2013


By Frank Roderus
Western Trail Blazer, April 2013

Jonathon Two Hawk has disappeared and his wife – or widow – wants Cole Bowen and Edward Baile to investigate. What she really wants, and says so, is for Bowen and Baile to kill the man she believes has murdered her husband and stolen more than seventeen thousand dollars from him.

The partners are not assassins. But if someone tries to murder them, it will happen at that party's peril.

Like the previous stories in this series Frank Roderus presents the reader with a very fast moving tale filled with incident and surprises. The dialogue between Bowen and Baile is often laced with humour. The changing West also sees Bowen filled with wonder such as taking a ride in a lift and having cold and hot water piped into the bathroom of his hotel.

No matter how much Bowen doesn’t want to kill you just know it’s going to happen at some point and when the gun action comes it’s fast and furious, both Bowen’s old Colt and Baile’s much more modern Mauser being used swiftly and with deadly effect.

After finishing this I was left feeling thoroughly entertained and looking forward to Bowen and Baile’s next adventure.

Friday 7 June 2013

Bad to the Bone

By Jack Bodine
Harper, October 1994

On the dodge south of the border, Duane Braddock lands in a luxurious Mexican hacienda, where he befriends a powerful nobleman’s lonely wife. It’s only a matter of time before hot lead starts flying, especially when American bounty hunters are closing in on the Pecos Kid, Apache have been seen in the vicinity, and his former great love, Miss Vanessa Fontaine, is hot on his trail.

But Duane Braddock is eighteen years old, and thinks he can handle anything. His problem is that Lady Luck might not agree.

Jack Bodine gives his hero a major moral dilemma in this story, as his religious upbringing fights his lust for a married woman. But is it just lust? Could the Pecos Kid be falling in love? And it’s this question and its ramifications that form the centre storyline of this fast moving tale.

Jack Bodine writes these emotional struggles extremely well, his technique of laying his story out in short scenes that switch regularly from character to character throwing further complications into the mix works superbly and it isn’t long before treachery and vengeance, real or imagined, cause events to explode in violent action.

And what of Vanessa Fontaine? Will she be reunited with Braddock? Will Braddock accept her back and want to spend the rest of his life with her?

Jack Bodine answers all these questions as I hoped he would as this book turned out to be the last in the series. Whether the author knew this at the time of writing I couldn’t say as he closes most of story threads that have been running throughout the series. Braddock is still left wanting revenge on his father’s killer though, and there is a new thread that is just begging to be developed. For me this series ended far too soon.

These books have been released as ebooks under the authors real name, Len Levinson.

Sunday 2 June 2013

Comes The Reaper

By B.J. Holmes
Piccadilly Publishing, April 2013

When Tom Connor first disembarked at Puget Sound, eager to settle in the northwest with his bride, little did he know that he was to take a long, long journey. This is a saga of violence, death and revenge that bears witness to the emergence of the bounty hunter known to history as ‘The Reaper’.

Way back in 1983 the first book to feature Jonathan Grimm, The Reaper, was published. Originally intended as a stand-alone novel the character proved popular and B.J. Holmes wrote another, and then another, until seven books made up the series. The fact that there was never any intention of producing a series the books move back and forward in time as Holmes filled in gaps in the bounty hunter’s backstory. Now, thanks to Piccadilly Publishing, the books are being published as ebooks in chronological order of The Reaper’s life, thus explaining the Foreword that states other Reaper books have already been published. This book was first published in 1995.

B.J. Holmes has always been a favourite western writer of mine and many of his books can be found in my collection. Comes the Reaper was one I’d never managed to find at a sensible price in good condition so I was extremely pleased to see Piccadilly Publishing put it out as an ebook.

As expected, the story is well crafted, very fast moving and filled with excellent descriptions and dialogue. There’s plenty of action and some neat twists and turns that see Tom Conner’s re-birth as Jonathan Grimm. It seems that any attempts he made for a happy, normal, life were doomed to failure and tragic circumstances see him taking up the vengeance trail in the battlefields of the American Civil War.

After surviving the horrors of war Connor finds himself working for a very important man and is then hunted for playing a part in that man’s murder. This part of the book making for some suspenseful reading.

I can’t really say much more without spoiling the story other than adding that I’m sure whoever reads this book will find themselves, like me, looking forward to the next Reaper book being published and hoping that we don’t have to wait too long for that to happen.