Wednesday 31 December 2014

Westerns read during 2014

Didn't manage to read as many westerns this year but still feel I read a good variety of styles and different authors. Click the number to go to the book review.


1. Nunslinger #1: Nunslinger by Stark Holborn
2. The Gunsmith #385: The Silent Deputy by J.R. Roberts
3. The Trailsman #387: Apache Vendetta by Jon Sharpe
4. Shotgun by C. Courtney Joyner
5. Missouri in Flames by W.R. Benton
6. Long Ridin’ Man by Jake Douglas
7. Haunted Falls by Farmer and Stienke
8. The Iron Horse by Paul Bedford


9. Bitter Trail by Dale Graham
10. Stillman’s War by Peter Brandvold
11. Little Man and the Dixon County War by Stan R. Mitchell
12. Follow the Stone by John Locke
13. Last Stage from Hell’s Mouth by Derek Rutherford
14. Dalton and the Sundown Kid by Ed Law
15. Skyhorse by John Ladd

MARCH READS – 7 books

16. Shawn O’Brien: Town Tamer by William W. Johnstone with J.A. Johnstone
17. The Landon Saga 2: Entwined Paths by Tell Cotton
18. The Trailsman #389: Outlaw Trackdown by Jon Sharpe
19. Wrath of the Savage by Charles G. West
20. Dig Two Graves by Peter Wilson
21. Back from Boot Hill by Colin Bainbridge
22. The Hunt for Iron Eyes by Rory Black

APRIL READS – 5 books

23. The Cheyenne Trail a Ralph Compton novel by Jory Sherman
24. The Spanish Bit Saga #21: Thunderstick by Don Coldsmith
25. Cartridge Creek by John Benteen writing as Richard Meade
26. The Landon Saga 3: Cooper by Tell Cotton
27. Diablo by Chuck Tyrell

MAY READS – 7 books

28. Dark Mesa by Hank J. Kirby
29. The Trailsman #391: Night Terror by Jon Sharpe
30. White Wind by C. J. Sommers
31. The Judge #9: Border War by Hank Edwards
32. The Badge #6: The Showdown by Bill Reno
33. The Devil’s Anvil by Steve Hayes
34. Cougar Tracks by Owen G. Irons

JUNE READS – 8 books

35. Bowen and Baile #4: Trapped! By Frank Roderus
36. Nebraska Shoot-out by Corba Sunman
37. Fargo: Apache Raiders by John Benteen
38. Left-Hand Kelly by Elisabeth Grace Foley
39. Incident at Confederate Gulch by Ethan Harker
40. The Devil’s Ambush by Peter Brandvold
41. The Hangrope Posse by Scott Connor
42. Incident at River Bend by Lee Lejeune

JULY READS – 8 books

43. The Trailsman 392: Colorado Carnage by Jon Sharpe
44. The Hardest Ride by Gordon L. Rottman
45. Caleb Thorn #5: Death River by L. J. Coburn
46. Hannie Caulder by William Terry
47. The Trailsman 393: Six-Gun Inferno by Jon Sharpe
48. The Magnificent Mendozas by Ross Morton
49. Wild West Detective by James Clay
50. Apache Spring by J.D. Kincaid

AUGUST READS – 7 books

51. Crow 7: One-Eyed Death by James W. Marvin
52. Vengeance at Sundown by Larry D. Sweazy
53. The Iron Horse Chronicles #1: Eagle Talons by Robert Lee Murphy
54. Dry Gulch Revenge by Clay More
55. Hood by Jake Douglas
56. The Trailsman #394: Burning Bullets by Jon Sharpe
57. The Shoestringers by C.J. Sommers


58. Gaylord’s Badge by John Benteen writing as Richard Meade
59. The Revenger #4: Gold Dust Woman by Frank Leslie
60. Bullet Catch Showdown by I.J. Parnham
61. Comanche Dawn by Jake Shipley


62. The Landon Saga #4: Rondo by Tell Cotten
63. Dynamite Express by Gillian F. Taylor
64. Badlanders by David Robbins
65. Cougar Prowls by Owen G. irons
66. Stearn’s Break by Caleb Rand


67. A Bullet for Lawless by Steve Hayes
68. Wilderness #68: Savage Hearts by David Robbins
69. Sundance 5: Taps at Little Big Horn by John Benteen
70. Reaper by Lee Clinton
71. The Lawman and the Songbird by Chap O’Keefe
72. Dead Man Draw by Walt Keene


73. The Outlaws of Salty’s Notch by Will Keen
74. The Trailsman #398: Arizona Ambushers by Jon Sharpe
75. Sam Spur #2: Man in the Saddle by Matt Chisholm
76. Saloon Justice by Jay Clanton
77. Slocum #430: Slocum’s Silver Burden by Jake Logan
78. Longshot by C.J. Sommers
79. Blood Trail by John Legg

Sunday 28 December 2014

Ebook News

John Legg, who has had many westerns published under both his own name and a variety of pseudonyms, is now putting some of his back catalouge out as ebooks and is releasing some brand new work alongside them. You can find an interview I did with him here.

January 5th 2015 sees the publication of the first three in a brand new multi-author adult western series called Blaze! All three are available for pre-order.
"J.D. and Kate Blaze are two of the deadliest gunfighters the Old West has ever seen. They also happen to be husband and wife, as passionate in their love for each other as they are in their quest for justice on the violent frontier!"

Paul Lederer has now made is highly acclaimed five book Spectros series available as ebooks. Whilst not strictly Westerns as they cross the genre with fantasy they have always appealed to western fans, so if you fancy something a little bit different then these are well worth your consideration.

Tony Masero continues to put out brand new material, both series westerns and stand-alones. Tony is perhaps better known as a cover artist first rising to prominence in the western field when he painted the U.K. covers for George G. Gilman's books. As well as painting his own covers his excellent artwork can be seen fronting many of Piccadilly Publishing's releases. An interview with Tony can be found here.

Friday 26 December 2014

Man in the Saddle

By Matt Chisholm writing as Cy James
Piccadilly Publishing, December 2014

First published by Panther Books, March 1966.

Two braves came up to Spur and ripped the remains of his shirt from his body. The sweat poured down him. Then the man wearing the buffalo horns turned and faced him. In his hands he held a hot iron. He was still smiling. He capered a little, dancing nearer and nearer to Spur, hopping on alternate feet, crooning a gentle song.

When he was close to Spur he held the iron near his eyes. The white man dropped his lids against the heat and his heart pounded in his breast like a drum.

It’s going to be damned hard, he thought, to show these boys how a man can die…

The book opens with a frantic attempt by a mother to save her young daughter from Kiowas, a task doomed to failure and the little girl is snatched. After this the story never lets up in the action stakes as Sam Spur tries to find, and rescue, the kidnapped child.

To say Spur is a tough character is an understatement. The threat of death during gunfights or torture can’t dent his resolve to complete his mission. This leads to some very tense confrontations with the Kiowa that also involves bluff and double-cross, culminating in desperate bid for freedom whilst facing vastly superior odds.

Originally published under the author name of Cy James, Piccadilly Publishing have added the writers much more well-known name of Matt Chisholm, which in itself is also a pseudonym. The author’s real name being Peter Watts, an Englishman who at the height of his career was one of, if not the, biggest selling western writer in the UK and he has always been one of my all-time favourites.

So, if you’ve yet to try any of Watts’ work, then this book could be just the place to start if you enjoy hard-hitting, non-stop action westerns.

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Saloon Justice

By Jay Clanton
Hale, December 2014

After a row with his fiancée, young lawyer Jerry Freeman leaves New York and travels as far as his meagre savings will carry him. He ends up in the small Texas town of Mineral Springs, where Judge Clayton Singer, owner of the local saloon, runs the strangest court ever known in the history of the United States and nobody dare go against him.

Jerry is appointed Public Defender and soon becomes accepted in the little community. However, when he makes a poor judgment about one of his clients, Jerry ends up on the wrong side of the law himself and in peril for his life.

This book is set in 1889, a fair bit later than the vast majority of Black Horse Westerns, and, as far as I can tell, is the first to carry the author name of Jay Clanton.

At least two thirds of this story deals with court cases, and these make for fascinating reading and also contain some humorous moments as modern New York law comes up against Old West law – or should that be Clayton Singer’s take on the law? The Judge sure has some eye-opening reasons for dishing out justice in a way to both benefit him and his town.

So, don’t expect a book filled with gunfights – although there is gunplay towards the end of the story – what you get is a tale of twisting legal battles and an awakening in Freeman as to how life, and people, isn’t quite as clear-cut as he believes, all resolved in an exciting clash of Old West adversaries: Indians, posses, and killers.

I found this book to be a very entertaining read that has left me looking forward to Jay Clanton’s next book which is due out in April 2015.

Thursday 18 December 2014

Is this the end of the Trailsman?

By Jon Sharpe
Signet, December 2014

Skye Fargo comes across a massacred army unit in the Arizona wild, and everyone immediately assumes it was the Apaches. But when he investigates, he finds something even more frightening – a savage pack of feminine felons out for blood and money. But he isn’t about to let any of these wild women get away – not without the Trailsman putting them flat on their backs….

Jon Sharpe sure has come up with a terrific group of adversaries for the Trailsman, and they aren’t the only great characters to be found in this story for there’s another woman who is out for revenge, and there’s a half-blood who seems to want to help Fargo but may have another agenda. And shadowing them all is a small band of Apaches set to strike at any moment.

There are many tense moments to be found in this extremely fast paced tale. Action explodes across the pages regularly and there is a neat twist that took me completely by surprise. Combine this with believable dialogue that is often laced with humour and you have a book that demands to be read.

Once more this tale finds David Robbins writing behind the pseudonym of Jon Sharpe and again it’s his gift of storytelling that makes this book such a joy to read, and for me, and many, many other fans of Skye Fargo it really is a shame that this could well be last time we’ll read a new Trailsman adventure for the series has been cancelled. There is a vague glimmer of hope that Fargo could ride again as a reliable source has said the publishers have stated the series has been put on hiatus. 

In case this does turn out to be the last Trailsman book I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the authors who have written behind the pseudonym of Jon Sharpe and made this a must read series for me.

Sunday 14 December 2014

The Outlaws of Salty's Notch

By Will Keen
Hale, November 2014

The elderly derelicts in the sleepy Louisiana settlement of La Belle Commune are leading the good life, lazing in the hot sun. Until Bushwhack Jack Breaker rides in from Texas with his outlaw band, and everything changes. Ex-bounty-hunter Paladin awakes to find eccentric marshal, Brad Corrigan, has been forcibly taken, along with saloonist Rik Paulson and storekeeper Alec Mackie – but where, and why? The elegant widow Emma Bowman-Laing knows where, but Paladin and crippled wrangler Shorty Long fail in their rescue bid and Bowman-Laing’s crumbling antebellum mansion goes up in flames.

With rumours of a horde of gold coming across the sea by ketch, and flashy Mexican killer Guillermo Rodriguez brandishing his six-gun, Paladin slips reluctantly into his old bounty-hunting ways. His search for truth and justice takes him deep into Texas, but it is in La Belle Commune that everything is resolved in a bloody fight in the saloon, and brought to a fatal close in the waters of Petit Creek.

Will Keen brings together an excellent cast of characters whose personalities grab your attention as strongly as the terrific twisting plotline. At no time is it obvious how this fast moving tale will develop and who will be alive at its conclusion.

The story outline might seem to leave nothing out but believe me it doesn’t hint at the double-crosses and motivations that leave one person in unsuspected grave danger and the frantic race to save them and the hard-hitting ending this leads to.

Will Keen is a pseudonym used by John Paxton Sheriff and I’ve always found his stories to be hard-to-put-down reads with well thought out plots that are never predictable, and this book enforces that statement. If you’ve never tried his work then this is certainly a worthy place to start.

Friday 5 December 2014

Dead Man Draw

By Walt Keene
Hale, November 2014

Legendary Will Bill Hickok and his close friends, retired lawman Dan Shaw and veteran gunfighter Tom Dix, have no idea what they are facing upon arrival in the sprawling town of Dead Man Draw. But it doesn’t take long to discover that the place is crawling with hired killers.

The intrepid trio are soon face to face with more deadly guns than they have ever encountered, each one trained on the fearless men as they move through the settlement. The tension is about to break. Shaw and Dix are angry but Hickok is more than angry – he’s dangerous.

Dead Man Draw is, I believe, the ninth book in Walt Keene’s series featuring Dix, Shaw and Hickok, and it’s only the second I’ve read. As in Gun Fury Hickok doesn’t have a major role until some way into the story. He appears in the prologue and it’s during this that a couple of major questions are voiced that kept me reading to find out their answers.

Dix and Shaw, virtually penniless, take on roles as lawmen in Dead Man Draw, without really wondering why they’ve been offered the jobs. It soon becomes obvious that the men who’ve hired them, and those who oppose them, don’t give a damn about the real law and it seem all are motivated by greed.

With Hickok’s arrival in town the three team up and take on the bad guys in a bloody showdown that includes a couple of twists and also brings forth the answers to the questions set at the beginning of the story.

Walt Keene is a pseudonym used by Michael D. George, a writer whose Black Horse Westerns written under a variety of pen-names are very popular. A couple of his other series are perhaps better known than this one, but on the strength of this very entertaining book maybe Dix, Shaw and Hickok should be up there with the likes of Iron Eyes (as by Rory Black) and the Bar 10 series (as by Boyd Cassidy).