Wednesday 28 May 2014

The Devil's Anvil

By Steve Hayes
Hale, May 2014

The news wasn’t good: the kill-crazy McClory brothers had busted out of Yuma Pen and where headed for Indian Territory. Somebody would have to bring them in and the job falls to Liberty Mercer, a US deputy marshal who also happens to be a woman. And she was getting mighty tired of having her abilities questioned time and again.

Liberty sets out to run the outlaws to ground, knowing it is going to be tough. But even she never anticipates just how tough it is going to be. As she follows a trail of bodies clear across the desert known as The Devil’s Anvil, she forms an uneasy alliance with the Dunn brothers, Bill and Bee. Along the way she almost gets herself killed for trusting the wrong person, but by the time the gunsmoke clears she will learn something about herself that will change her whole life.

The Devil’s Anvil is another book in Steve Hayes series revolving around Santa Rosa and its surrounding area. The story involves a number of characters who have appeared in those past books and there are numerous references to those tales and their outcomes, so in some-ways this story contains spoilers for those books so some readers may prefer to read the earlier books first. Having said that, The Devil’s Anvil is a self-contained tale and not having read the previous books won’t stop you enjoying this one.

Liberty is a complex character, struggling to come to terms with just who she is and her past. People she meets add further doubts and it’s one of these that adds a neat twist-to-the-tale as to their motives.

The book is very easy to read and contains plenty of action as it builds well to its surprise ending that makes you wonder who, or what, the next book in this excellent saga will be about, and that’s something I’m very much looking forward to discovering in due time.

The Devil's Anvil at

Sunday 25 May 2014

Border War

By Hank Edwards
Harper, March 1993

Clay Torn is in the peaceful, booming border town of Eagle Pass when vicious Garza Santiago and his outlaw army strike. Blood and terror reign as Santiago plunders the city of its gold and guns and rides off with Judge Torn’s closest friend, Meg Slaughter.

Against good sense and risking his own safety, Torn rides through the burning town to get Meg back. If he must, he’ll take on the entire rebel army to rescue the woman who once saved his life.

If it’s action you want then look no further than this book. The story starts with a duel attack on Eagle Pass and the nearby fort and the gunplay never lets up after that as Torn and two companions take on massive odds in their attempt to free Meg.

Quite why Santiago has targeted this particular young woman isn’t apparent to begin with, and another question soon rears its ugly head, who has hired Santiago to kidnap Meg? Answers are soon discovered but knowing this doesn’t help in solving Torn’s quest, only throws more deadly odds in his path.

Hank Edwards is a pseudonym, this time finding Jason Manning writing behind the pen-name. Manning has created an excellent set of characters for this story; Meg Slaughter, torn between her feelings for two men; Lieutenant Chapman driven by love and who lets jealousy blur his decisions; Santiago, greed motivated and thinks nothing of double-crossing anyone if it’s to his advantage, to name but a few.

The story races along to its dramatic bloody battle that concludes with a large death toll and Torn riding off to face his destiny, hopefully free of the nightmares that have haunted him throughout this savage turn of events.

Border War is a great entry in this series and it leaves me eager to read the next book, Death Warrant, as soon as possible.

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Western Fiction News

A few years ago I interviewed artist Ken Laager – which is my most viewed post of all time and can be found here – and I thought readers might be interested to know he’s produced the excellent cover art for Joe R. Lansdale’s western novella Black Hat Jack. Ken has also provided a number of superb illustrations that can be found inside the book. Check out Ken’s blog to see more.

Another artist I interviewed, Tony Masero, is busy producing the covers for many of Piccadilly Publishing’s releases, including the ebook versions of J. R. Roberts’ Giant Gunsmith books. The first one, Trouble in Tombstone, was published last month and features some very eye-catching artwork.

Ex-gunfighter Dallas Stoudenmire is now heir to a Texas border town that draws the dregs of the west like flies. In El Paso, being honest is a sure way to get yourself killed. And Dallas is smart enough to know that he needs help. 

But riding shotgun for his friend is just the beginning for Clint Adams … The Gunsmith leaves El Paso behind and teams up with the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday in a showdown against the Wild West’s most notorious killers—in a trouble spot called the O. K. Corral … 

I read this when it first came out and would highly recommended it to all Gunsmith fans and those who enjoy westerns featuring real people and events.

Sticking with Piccadilly Publishing, they seem to be going from strength to strength, putting out around eight ebooks per month, of which the majority are westerns. Their prices are extremely competitive and they specialize in bringing back series from the past as well as stand-alone titles such as Tony Masero’s The Rifleman, a review of which can be found here.

They also publish new material. Here’s a small selection of some of their recent releases:

Click on the above image to see a much larger version.

Sunday 18 May 2014

White Wind

By C. J. Sommers
Hale, April 2014

Spuds McCain is convinced the White Wind brings disaster to all those who sense its message, although Hobie Lee is sceptical. But bad things do happen to the Starr-Diamond Ranch and Hobie is hoodwinked and ambushed into trouble when his charge, Ceci Starr, disappears on a trip to town, and he falls foul of a loud-mouthed bully of a silver miner.

The White Wind blows away the rest of his common sense as he determines to restore the reluctant Ceci to her father, and it takes a maelstrom of death and double-cross before the White Wind blows itself out and Hobie can find peace.

C. J. Sommers begins this story with some of the calamities that befall the hands of the Starr-Diamond Ranch as the White Wind blows. In some-ways these add a light-hearted start to the tale, as does the banter between the hands as to whether they believe in the White Wind or not.

Hobie makes for a great hero, and once Ceci goes missing, he is driven by fear for his job but has no idea how to find her. He does have many questions though but answers are also hard to come by.

C. J. Sommers moves his plot forward at ever increasing speed, piling problem upon problem for Hobie, not least as to the identity of who shoots Hobie and puts him out of action for a while, which in itself might have a silver-lining.

There are some great action sequences, an attack on a cabin being particularly well described.

C. J. Sommers is a pseudonym used by Paul Lederer, and once again I enjoyed reading his book and am left looking forward to his next.

White Wind at

Black Horse Westerns are produced for UK libraries, but some do go on sale through various bookstores and Internet sources, which means getting hold of them can be difficult at times if you’re not quick off the mark. For anyone interested in reading C. J. Sommers’ books but have been finding it hard to get hold of a copy, you may be interested to know that the author has begun putting his older titles out as ebooks.

Thursday 15 May 2014

Night Terror

By Jon Sharpe
Signet, May 2014

1861, the Arkansas swamp country – and the winds of war are in the air.

In the wilds of Arkansas swamp country, someone – or something – is on a killing spree. And the only things left behind are the victims’ heads. Fargo would rather just pass through and not get too involved. But there are some acts of savagery that cannot be ignored. And the Trailsman is about to face off against a killer unlike any he’s ever met….

This book is filled with tense situations as the main characters are often stalked by the killer who rips its’ victims heads clean off through pure brute strength. As if this gripping storyline isn’t enough to hold the readers’ attention, Jon Sharpe also combines it with the mission Fargo is on when he encounters the Night Terror. The Trailsman is delivering secret Union Army documents to an undercover general that must not fall into Southern hands as they contain vital information about the coming Civil War.

Fargo finds himself involved with a strange mix of characters of both sexes, none of whom he feels he can really trust, and in some cases these feelings prove to be justified. And even if you begin to think you know which way some of these wonderful characters are going to jump then Jon Sharpe throws in twist upon twist to completely throw you off track.

Descriptions of the swamp country are superb, as are the many action scenes, some of which are quite gruesome. Dialogue snaps off the page easily and often contains humour adding a touch of lightness to the darker tones of the Night Terror storyline.

Jon Sharpe, in this case David Robbins writing behind the pseudonym, smoothly brings both story threads together, that sees enemies joining forces in an attempt to deal with a much bigger foe. The final confrontation between all is as brutal as you’d expect and makes for a very memorable battle that reveals horrors of all kinds.

And is Fargo successful in seeing that the documents reach their destination? That I can’t say here, but I will add that the answer to that question makes for a great ending to an excellent book. 

Sunday 11 May 2014

Dark Mesa

By Hank J. Kirby
Hale, April 2014

He was stubborn and an ex-jailbird to boot. No wonder he didn’t fit in with the people of Keystone. They wouldn’t give him the time of day, bought down the law on him, even burned him out, then sent for a hired killer.

He stayed put and did things his way – until, finally, the harassment drove him to strap on his guns and go after the one man behind his troubles. That was when Keystone finally realized he was unstoppable….

Hank J. Kirby hooks the reader immediately with a number of questions such as what does a man called Moreno want with McCall, not that McCall has any interest in the answer, just wants to be left alone. Of course we know McCall will be pushed too far and then the already fast moving storyline really picks up pace, building quickly to a memorable, tense, final showdown.

Hank J. Kirby is a pseudonym used by prolific western author Keith Hetherington and this book, like many of his others, contains a superb fist-fight that sees both combatants suffering badly from the brutal exchange.

Bad guys and good are all well-crafted, each having their own personalities, and descriptions of landscape, characters and action are very visual.

Keith Hetherington’s years of experience shine through his prose, and Dark Mesa proved to be a very entertaining read indeed that left me eagerly looking forward to his next book.

Dark Mesa at

Tuesday 6 May 2014


By Chuck Tyrell
Hale, April 2014

On the streets of Diablo jobs are scarce, tempers roiling and dead men are stripped almost before they hit the ground. But Shawn Brodie need to collect $3000 for Tin Can Evans, and that amount of money can cause epic problems for a man in a hell of a town such as this.

And when things go bad, those living south of the A&P tracks, in a jumble of huts and tents, get the blame. With a host of dangerous men walking its streets, it’s only a matter of time before the fuse is lit that threatens to blow Diablo all to Hell…maybe where it belongs.

Back in 2010 Chuck Tyrell wrote a well praised book called The Snake Den and in Diablo he returns to some of those characters, namely Shawn Brodie and Shoo Lee. You don’t need to have read that earlier book to get full enjoyment out of this one.

Diablo’s storyline mainly revolves around the build up to a bare-knuckle fight between Shoo Lee and an Irishman on which many bets are placed. This neatly ties in with Shawn Brodie’s mission to collect on a debt.

Chuck Tyrell moves his story along well, and uses his knowledge of martial art training to great effect. Oriental weapons are used more often than guns giving this western a different feel to what one would, perhaps, expect. When the main fight takes place it is superbly described in a very visual manner and this brutal exchange leads to a much larger scale battle that has to be won before Brodie can tie-up his business.

For those who have read The Snake Den, or those who enjoy westerns that mix cultures, then make sure you don’t miss this one.

Diablo at

Friday 2 May 2014


By Tell Cotten
Solstice Publishing, February 2014

Cooper Landon is determined to keep what is rightfully his, even after he's wounded and stranded in the mountains. To survive, he must use his wit and knowledge against thieving outlaws and Indians. Meanwhile, Yancy Landon is determined to find his brother. There are many obstacles to overcome, including an escaped prisoner, a fire, missing money, and an old foe, Lee Mattingly.

This story picks up from where the previous book ended and features nearly all the main characters and some of the secondary characters from that tale. You don’t need to have read the earlier book(s) to enjoy this as Tell Cotten incudes enough background to explain what happened before.

Tell Cotten has created a superb set of characters for his Landon saga, each having their own personalities and all are very memorable. I always hope they will all survive, good and bad, as I’m continually left wanting to read more about them but they all can’t be left alive can they? Of course they can’t, and this tale contains a terrific face to face showdown that sees casualties on all sides.

Cotten tells his story in both the first person and third. Switches from one to the other are smoothly handled and works extremely well. In fact Cotten’s blend of action, twisting plotlines, and witty dialogue that is often laced with humour, has me believing he’s one of the new bright stars in western writing.

Even as the book ends and all the major story threads are tied-up, Cotten manages to hint at things to come in the fourth book of the series, Rondo, that will be released in the not too distant future, and whenever that maybe it won’t be soon enough for this reader.