Wednesday 31 August 2022


By Barry Cord
Cover art by Giorgio Tubaro
Chivers Press, 2001 hardback
Originally published as part of an Ace Double, 1964

Three men rode into Fulton, three loners with one this in common – a way of life built around a gun.

One was a U.S. deputy marshal, one a discredited ex-Ranger, one a hired killer. They had all come to do the same job: avenge the death of one man and restore law to the territory.

Or so they all said.

One of them rode with honor, one with guilt, and one with lies. And, in a short time, two would be dead and one left alone to fight for his life.

Like many books written by Barry Cord, this one has a twisted storyline that moves forwards at a breathless pace. The author gives enough information about the plot to make you think you know what is going on, but will then surprise you with revelations that will make you realize things aren’t as straight-forwards as you think.

The three central characters are all fascinating in their own rights, as are some of the people they come up against. The struggle to discover just who hanged Sheriff Tom Billens and who is blowing up trains makes for a gripping read. Just as I expected really, as I’ve been a fan of this authors work for a long time. However, there was one scene that stretched my belief just a little too much. A horse rescuing its owner from a situation I don’t believe a horse would go anywhere near. Other than that, this book did turn out to be a fun read and I will certainly be reading more of Barry Cord’s books soon.

Barry Cord is a pseudonym used by Peter B. Germano.

As is mentioned above, Gun Junction was originally part of an Ace Double western published in 1964, paired with A Man Called Ragian by John Callahan. You can see the artwork for Gun Junction below which was done by Gerald McConnell.

Saturday 27 August 2022


Book 2 of 22
By James A. Muir
Cover art by Colin Backhouse
Sphere Books, 1977

The cowboy grovelled, pleading for his life.
“Why?” asked the tall man called Matthew Gunn, “why should I let you live?’
He drew his Bowie knife, moving forwards with hate in his soul and death in his eyes. The figure sprawled on the snow began to scream…

The half-breed, Matthew Gunn, had trailed his quarry through the waterless hell of the Nevada desert, up to the snow-covered crags of the high Sierras. In his wake was a trail of blood which tainted his footsteps and marked him as a killer. Now he approached the culmination of his long pursuit – vengeance! Now he would strike his blow without mercy, because he was called Breed – and the name spelled violent death.

This book starts shortly after the previous one ended and Matthew Gunn, also known as Breed and Azul, continues to track the three remaining scalp hunters who slaughtered his family. He’s cold and merciless in his pursuit and nothing will stand in his way as he tracks his quarry. The author, Angus Wells writing as James A Muir, portrays this grim determination so well that you can feel the hate rising from the pages. 

Like many of the westerns written by the group of authors later to become known as the Piccadilly Cowboys, this also references other authors and/or characters from western movies. Breed signs on with a man called Ezra Culpepper, who owns the Culpepper Cattle Company to guide a cattle drive. Later he’ll help a man called Terry Harknett who is leading a group of travellers through the snow-covered mountains.

It's in this book that Wells introduces words of advice and sayings that Azul remembers being given to him by old Sees-Both-Ways, a Chiricahua shaman. Something that will continue throughout the series. A nodded to the television series Kung Fu perhaps as that series saw Kwai Chang Caine remembering advice from Master Po. 

Wells also reveals more of Nolan’s background. Explaining how the leader of the scalp hunters knows Breed. Nolan is an engaging character, a cold-blooded killer who seems to be one step ahead of Azul and uses the fact that Breed is a wanted man to his advantage.

This is a brutal book. Killings are described in all their gory glory. One death in particular being particularly inventive. There is plenty of blood and graphic detail as bullets pierce flesh and knives slash fragile flesh. Gallows humour occasionally lightens the tone in groan-worthy puns.

If you’ve read the first book in this series, The Lonely Hunt, you’ll definitely want to read this. Be warned though, as the end will certainly make you want to track down a copy of book three, Cry For Vengeance. 

These old paperbacks can be hard to find these days at sensible prices but the good news is that Piccadilly Publishing is now making this series, and the others Angus Wells had a part in writing, available a ebooks so you’ve no excuse for missing out on this excellent series.

Wednesday 24 August 2022


By Terrence McCauley
Pinnacle Books, August 2022

Deputy U.S. Marshal Jeremiah Halstead keeps the peace in the mining town of Silver Cloud, Montana. But an old enemy has declared war against him.

Ruthless and clever, Ed Zimmerman would have become the leader of one of the west’s deadliest and hell-bent outlaw gangs. Zimmerman has offered a generous bounty to every desperado willing to put a bullet through the U.S. Marshal’s heart.

A death sentence won’t stop Halstead from enforcing the law. The sheriff of Battle Brook needs a hand dealing with some hell-raising badmen in the surrounding hills, threatening to take over the frontier town. Joined by Deputy Sandborne, Halstead rides hard for Battle Brook only to discover manhunters, aware of the price on his head, are in town, guns cocked and ready to collect the reward.

And Zimmerman has joined the outlaws in the hills, waiting to catch Halstead in his sights . . . 

Jeremiah Halstead first appeared in Terrence McCauley’s previous Pinnacle series about Sheriff Aaron Mackey, and now he has his own series. Mackey has a small part to play in this one as it is he who sends Halstead and Sandborne to Battle Brook. Events from the first Halstead book and from the Mackey series are referenced throughout this story but the author uses enough detail in these parts of the tale so that new readers will understand what has gone before.

Zimmerman is an excellent adversary for Halstead, and the outlaw’s plan for empire begins with a series of mine robberies. There’s also a bank heist that leads to a neat twist. As Halstead tries to figure out just what is going on in Battle Brook and its neighbouring town, Hard Scrabble, he has to deal with numerous attempts on his life as those eager to claim Zimmerman’s bounty try to kill the lawman. 

There is never a dull moment as the story builds in pace and tension. There are several plot twists that made me wonder how Halstead could ever defeat Zimmerman and his gang as the outlaw leader seemed to be one step ahead of the lawman at all times. During all the action, Halstead meets a woman, Abigail Newman, who may or may not have a part to play in his future.

Once again, Terrence McCauley has written a gripping tale that should be on all western fans books to read list. The story is filled with fascinating characters, plenty of gunplay, and has a gripping plot. The book has an excellent ending that left me very much looking forward to the next book, The Revengers, which will be released in March 2023. 

Thursday 18 August 2022


Number 55 of 71 + 7 Giant Editions to date.
By David Thompson
Leisure, March 2008

Robert Parker ventures into the vast unknown to study new species of plant and animals in the name of science. He’s thrilled when a young half-breed named Zach King invites him back to his family’s secluded valley in the Rocky Mountains. But Parker’s about to find out he’s not the only newcomer. Three murderous prospectors have heard there’s a fortune in gold on the King’s land, and they’ll do anything to get it. They’ve heard how tough the King’s are, and they’re well prepared for that. But they haven’t counted on the grit of one determined greenhorn…

This is the second book in the Wilderness series to be written in the first person and it works extremely well. The story is told through the eyes of Robert Parker, a man who almost refuses to see danger in both man and beast, therefore putting him in many perilous situations. 

It was very interesting to see how Parker reacted and related to both Zach King and Blue Water Woman. In fact, it was great to see the latter taking such a central role. Even though Parker and Blue Water Woman come from very different backgrounds and cultures it soon became very apparent that they shared a common trait, that of their enjoyment of the natural world and a respect for the animals that inhabit it.

Of course, the story isn’t all about admiration for the wilderness it is also a story of greed and the lengths some people will go to in their quest to find gold, no matter who has to suffer in their hunt to find it. Something Parker struggles to accept and comprehend. It was fascinating to read that it wasn’t Zach King who teaches Parker the reality of this aspect of life but Blue Water Woman.

Into the Unknown has everything, touching moments of gentleness, savage moments of violence, and moments of humour. All this combines in a beautifully balanced and well written story that was a joy to read.

David Thompson is a pseudonym used by David Robbins and he still puts out books in this series today under his own name.

In October 2022, Piccadilly Publishing made Into the Unknown available as an ebook together with book 56 in series, In Darkest Depths, the cover of which you can see below.

Tuesday 9 August 2022


By Robert W. Broomall
Cover art by Gabriele
Fawcett Gold Medal, December 1993

When ex-Confederate officer Clay Chandler applied for the sheriff job in Topaz, Arizona, the average lifespan for the position was three weeks tops. It got a little shorter when Clay arrested one of the notorious Hopkins brothers for killing a black man.

Ringleader Wes Hopkins gave Clay twenty-four hours to release his brother Vance – or else. Hell got a little hotter when Clay found out that Hopkins had the judge and the mayor under his thumb, and everyone else too scared to do anything but hide.

Until, that is, freed slave Essex Johnson showed up looking to be deputy. An ex-slave and an ex-reb wouldn’t seem to have a lot in common – but if they didn’t survive the next bloody, bullet-ridden five days together, it wouldn’t much matter….

The new lawman up against a powerful criminal who has the town council, and townsfolk too scared to do anything but what he says is an often-used plot in westerns. It’s a classic one man against many story that I never tire of. Here though, author Robert W. Broomall adds spice by bringing in a black deputy, a man no-one in town can respect, and neither does the sheriff. 

Both lawmen have some very derogatory views of each other and I’m not sure some of the terms used would be included in books published today as many people will find them offensive. These racist comments make it hard to like either lawman, but do reflect people’s thoughts of the time period the book is set in I’d imagine. 

The book is extremely well paced with plenty of fast-and-furious action, including a bloody fist-fight between the two lawmen. Packed with tense scenes, such as when the lawmen get out of town taking their prisoner with them and the time running out to Wes Hopkins’ deadline. 

The author also includes a number of plot twists, some of which took me by surprise and they added to my enjoyment of the book. The tale concludes with a vicious bloody shootout and finishes with a humorous comment. 

One word of warning though, don’t read the taster page of content included at the beginning of the book as it’s too much of a spoiler for something that happen towards the end of the book. Why publishers aren’t a little more selective in their choice for what they use for these sample pages is beyond me. 

This is only the second book I’ve read by Robert Broomall, and it’s made me wonder why I don’t read his work more often.