Monday 31 October 2022


By Matt Chisholm
Cover art by Gino D’Achille
Panther Books, 1970
Piccadilly Publishing, March 2022

Rem McAllister was on one of the toughest missions of his violent career. He rode into Mexico – and found a whole heap of trouble brewing. For one thing, he discovered that there were some mean hombres bent on invading Texas. For another, he found himself mixed up in a vicious war. And soon enough his outsize talent for trouble got him into a situation where two different leaders and a whole army were bent on hunting him down. Even for McAllister, these were fearsome odds . . . 

This book is a must read for fans of Matt Chisholm’s McAllister. His father, Chad McAllister, was always vague about the identity of Rem’s mother, stating she was either a Mexican lady of high birth or a Cheyenne princess, depending on how drunk he was at the time of telling. Rem has never met his mother and now he might just discover who she really is when he meets an old lady named McAllister. That isn’t the only shock for McAllister regarding family as he also finds himself fighting alongside a man who claims he is Rem’s brother. At first McAllister is suspicious of both, even though they know enough about Chad McAllister to make their stories ring true. Could it be that Rem has finally found his mother and at the same time a sibling he was unaware of?

For both McAllister fans and those who just enjoy a good western read, then this book should satisfy all. From the opening scenes this book grabs the imagination, hooks the reader with questions, and creates tension with plenty of how is he going to get out of that situations. The action is almost nonstop, as McAllister battles vastly superior odds. The author doesn’t give his hero an easy time of it either as McAllister is viciously beaten a couple of times and imprisoned. 

Matt Chisholm is a pseudonym used by author Peter Watts, and yet again he’s written a book that is thoroughly entertaining. The story is packed with great characters and has a terrific plot revolving around an invasion of America. Profanity is minimal, and the violence is hard-hitting but not overly graphic. The author also has a neat twist at the end that clears up McAllister’s questions about his new found family members.

The McAllister series ran for 39 books and they can take some finding these days in paper form. If you don’t mind reading ebooks, then you are in luck as Hang McAllister and many others are available electronically.  

Monday 24 October 2022


Number 1 of 5 to date
By William W. Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone
Kensington hardback, February 2019
Pinnacle paperback, July 2019

Not every Western hero wears a white hat or a tin star. Most of them are just fighting to survive. Some of them can be liars, cheaters, and thieves. And then there’s a couple of old-time robbers named Slash and Pecos . . . 

After a lifetime of robbing banks and holding up trains, Jimmy “Slash” Braddock and Melvin “Pecos Kid” Baker are ready to call it quits – though not completely by choice. Sold out by their gang, Slash and Pecos have to bust out of jail and pull one last job to finance their early retirement . . . 

The target is a rancher’s payroll train. Catch is: the train is carrying a Gatling gun manned by deputy U.S. marshals who know they’re coming. Caught and quickly sentenced to hang, their old enemy – the wheelchair-bound, bucket of mean, Marshal L.C. Bledsoe – shows up at the last minute to spare their lives. For a price. He’ll let them live if they hunt down their own gang, the Snake River Marauders. And kill those prairie rats – with extreme prejudice . . . 

Slash and Pecos are a couple of bickering old outlaws who’ve never killed anyone unless it was whilst defending themselves. Both are very likeable characters whose reflections on their past and observations on their now and future often had me grinning or laughing out loud. I will quickly add that this isn’t a comedy western, far from it.

After a lengthy gunfight with bounty hunters the story swiftly moves on to the ill-fated train robbery. This leads to them being sentenced to death by hanging. Saved in the nick-of-time, Slash and Pecos now have to face up to the realization that they have been double-crossed and have no choice but to track down and kill their old gang. Fittingly the final showdown revolves around another train robbery which contains many edge-of-the-seat moments.

There are many other terrific characters in this book too; Marshal “Bleed-‘Em-So” Bledsoe and the beautiful statuesque blonde, Abigail Langdon, who pushes the Marshal around in his wheelchair. Then there’s Jaycee Breckenridge, a long-time friend who it seems set them up to be captured, which is a revelation that Slash and Pecos struggle to comprehend. 

Descriptions of characters, landscape, architecture, trains and the many action scenes are superb, painting vivid imagery that played out in my minds-eye in a very visual, gripping tale that made this book difficult to put down. On reaching the end, I was left wanting to read the next book in the series as soon as possible.

Thursday 20 October 2022


Number 269 of 398 plus seven giant editions
By Jon Sharpe
Signet, March 2004

When Dave Donaldson heads into Indian Territory and never comes back, Skye Fargo agrees to track him down and—if at all possible—bring him back to safety. Finding the young man near the lawless land of Devil’s Den, Fargo learns that Dave isn’t just in trouble—he’s part of it, tangled up with a gang of killer smugglers. It’s up to the Trailsman to keep Donaldson alive—and let the others fall where they may…

After being ambushed for reasons unknown Fargo meets up with a friend and agrees to find the man’s son. Dave Donaldson had headed into Indian Territory to start a freight line only to be never seen again.

Fargo’s hunt soon has him riding into the lawless Indian Territory in time to save an Indian girl from outlaws who are set to destroy her wagonload of honey. And here lies the mystery element of the story, why are outlaws out to kill the girl and her father and bring an end to their honey selling business?

Fargo’s questions seem to point to the man he’s looking for being a member of outlaw gang. Throw in a gambler, a man hungry woman or two and the Cherokee Lighthorse and you have an explosive mix set to detonate when they all come together at Devil’s Den.

Jon Sharpe is a pseudonym and the author behind the penname for this book is James Reasoner and he provides us with a first class Trailsman story that grips from the opening scenes. Filled with great characters the tale unfolds at an ever-increasing pace that includes plenty of action.

For Trailsman fans this book is a must read. If you’ve never read a book from this series, Devil's Den would be an excellent entry point.

Just a note of warning, if you do decide to search for this book, do so by its number, 269, as there are three books in the series that share the title of Devil’s Den. The other two are numbers 77 and 390, both of these being written by different authors.

Sunday 16 October 2022


Number 29 of 31
By John Wesley Howard
Cover art by Samson Pollen
Jove, June 1983

When the roving band of gypsies arrived in the Wyoming Territory, their strange way of life was not welcomed. But “Easy” was sworn to protect them the same as everyone else.

Lt. Matt Kincaid has enough on his hands defending the gypsies. But another stranger invades the territory – an eccentric Englishman – who starts to slaughter buffalo for pleasure. Kincaid knows the Indians will never stand for that, and when the Arapaho launch a savage attack, “Easy” is in deep trouble.

The author of this book has created an excellent mix of characters that cause all kind of problems for Easy Company. To start with it is mainly the gypsies that the soldiers of Outpost Nine have to deal with. Many of these incidents having a touch of humour to them. I felt Captain Conway’s exasperation as each gypsy said his name was John Smith as they won’t divulge their real names to whites. One of the gypsy children also adds a touch of mystery to the tale as he was obviously not born a gypsy, so who is he?

The Englishman, Sir Fletcher, seems harmless enough until it’s revealed that he’s really come to Wyoming to carry out a scientific experiment. What this is both shocking and amusing, but something that will certainly lead to retaliation from the Indians. 

After a brief attack by Indians on the gypsy caravan at the beginning of the book there’s not much gunplay until near the end. Everything in-between builds to an action-packed assault on Outpost Nine by the Arapaho.

The Easy Company books are often referred to as an adult series, so you may be surprised to know that there isn’t any explicit sex to found in this story. Yes, it’s hinted at but that it.

I don’t know who wrote this book, but I found it to be an easy read. I did feel there was a bit too many character tales of their pasts that had nothing to do with the story and due to this they felt like padding. The author utilizes most of Easy Company’s main characters so if you have a favourite, you’ll find them playing a part in this tale. There’s also a new soldier, and like in other books of the series you just know he’s going to be the cause of trouble and his exploits bring about the humorous final lines of the book.

Not one of the best books in the series, but certainly very readable and entertaining. 

Sunday 9 October 2022


Number 2 of 31
By Zeke Masters
Pocket Books, June 1980

Between the whores and the hell-raisers in the boomtown of Abilene, Faro Blake’s nightly game at the Texas Rose was thriving. But when a greedy trail boss used the business end of a gun to relieve Faro of his take, it seemed like a good time to hit the trail.

Trouble is, the trail he hit, hit back – dropping him by turns off the back of a moving train, into a camp of Comancheros, under the thumb of a crooked marshal and into a no-holds-barred love tussle with a beautiful, brutal lady jailer.

It would take a tornado to blow Faro out of this one. No problem. Kansas is tornado country, ain’t it?

Zeke Masters’ Faro Blake is another of the many adult western series that came out during the latter 1970’s and the 1980’s. Like the majority of them, the authors’ name is a pseudonym and I believe the person writing behind the pen-name for this book was Donald R. Bensen. 

I found this book to be a fast, easy read. The straight-forward plot sees Blake getting into all kinds of scrapes which eventually lead to him going undercover to try and discover the whereabouts of some stolen gold. Blake seems to have an easy-come, easy-go attitude to life, which is why he is content to accept having his winnings stolen from him at the beginning and having no desire to track down the thief. This outlook on life makes him standout from other western heroes who would be hell-bent on retrieving their stolen property and making the thief pay the hard way. 

Blake’s anger does rise as the story progresses as he gets battered and bruised, used and abused, before being chained up in a dank underground cell at the mercy of the beautiful jailer mentioned above. How to escape her clutches soon becomes his one-and-only goal. This all leads to one hell of a final battle as all the different sides arrive at the small Inn Blake is being held captive at. I’m not sure why the blurb mentions a tornado as there isn’t one in the story, perhaps it’s referencing the frantic gunfight that brings the story to a close?

Being an adult western series, the book does contain some graphic sex, but this doesn’t take up too much of the story. Although Blake beds most of the women he meets the author only uses one or two paragraphs to describe these scenes. There is one such encounter that takes up more of the story, lasting for a couple pages, so these parts are easy to skip if you so desire.

There are some interesting comparisons to the real-life tale of the Benders as travellers vanish when visiting the inn. The beautiful jailer is called Kate, although her family name is Crakes. The crooked marshal is named Bender, as are the majority of people living in the nearby town of Bendersville. Setting the story in Kansas also provides another link to the family of serial killers.

Overall, a found this to be an entertaining book and I’m sure I will read more of this series somewhere down the line.