Saturday 31 December 2022


During 2022 I found time to read more westerns than I did the previous year. The oldest book is from 1937 right up until books released in December 2022. Most are by authors I’m familiar with, but I did try some authors that were new to me too. You’ll find reviews of traditional westerns, those containing graphic violence and some that have descriptive adult content. To read the review of any of the books listed below just click on the number.

1. Buck Trammel 2: Bury the Hatchet by William W. Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone
2. The Spanish Bit Saga 27: Raven Mocker by Don Coldsmith
3. The Badge 12: Death List by Bill Reno
4. Tales from Deadwood by Mike Jameson
5. The Trailsman 142: Golden Bullets by Jon Sharpe
6. Jubal Cade 21: The Violent Land by Charles R. Pike
7. Red Sun by William Terry
8. Skinner by F.M. Parker
9. The Loner 14: Hard Luck Money by J.A. Johnstone
10. Buckskin 2: Gunstock by Roy LeBeau
11. Ruff Justice 3: Blood on the Moon by Warren T. Longtree
12. Peacemaker 1: Comanche! By William S. Brady
13. Ambush at Apache Pass by Frank Leslie
14. Buck Trammel 3: The Intruders by William W. Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone
15. Bitter Brand by Tom West
16. The Guns of Hammer by Barry Cord
17. Bloody Joe Mannion 1: Bloody Joe by Peter Brandvold
18. Jeremiah Halstead 1: Blood on the Trail by Terrence McCauley
19. The Gamblers 1: Butler’s Wager by Robert J. Randisi
20. Doc and Raider 21: Bobbies, Baubles and Blood by J.D. Hardin
21. The Loner 15: Bullets Don’t Die by J.A. Johnstone
22. Fergal O’Brien 4: The Flying Wagon by I.J. Parnham
23. Buck Trammel 4: The Fires of Blackstone by William W. Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone
24. The Muleskinner by Robert MacLeod
25. Moonblood by Kenn Sherwood Roe
26. Abilene 8: The Whiskey Runners by Justin Ladd
27. Rio Diablo by Gordon D. Shirreffs
28. Wolf Stockburn, Railroad Detective 3: Kill Red by Max O’Hara
29. The Trailsman 138: Silver Fury by Jon Sharpe
30. Bozeman Paymaster by Robert Lee Murphy
31. Larry & Stretch 68: Start Shooting Texans by Marshall Grover
32. The Badge 13: The Outcast by Bill Reno
33. Will Tanner, U.S. Deputy Marshal by William W. Johnstone with J.A. Johnstone
34. The Tenderfoot by Robert Vaughan
35. Valley of Thunder by Sam Clancy
36. Bloody Joe Mannion 2: Revenge at Burial Rock by Peter Brandvold
37. The Lawmen by Robert W. Broomall
38. Jeremiah Halstead 2: Disturbing the Peace by Terrence McCauley
39. Breed 2: The Silent Kill by James A. Muir
40. Gun Junction by Barry Cord
41. The Morgans by William W. Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone
42. The Texians 2: The Horse Marines by Zach Wyatt
43. Powell’s Army 2: Apache Raiders by Terence Duncan
44. Marauders’ Moon by Luke Short – comic book version
45. Gunslinger 1: The Massacre Trail by Charles C. Garrett
46. Faro Blake 2: Luck of the Draw by Zeke Masters
47. Easy Company and the Gypsy Riders (29) by John Wesley Howard
48. Slash and Pecos 1: Cutthroats by William W. Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone
49. Hang McAllister by Matt Chisholm
50. Caleb York 2: The Big Showdown by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
51. Angel Eyes 4: Chinatown Justice by W.B. Longley
52. The Badge 14: The Gallows by Bill Reno
53. Apache 2: Knife in the Night by William M. James
54. The Killing Shot by Johnny D. Boggs
55. Slattery by Steven C. Lawrence
56. Black Hills Blood Hunt by William W. Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone
57. Canyon O’Grady 12: Railroad Renegades by Jon Sharpe
58. Carson Stone 1: Dead Man’s Trail by Nate Morgan
59. Edge 3: Apache Death by George G. Gilman
60. The Plainsmen 13: Ashes of Heaven by Terry C. Johnston

Reviews of books read a few years ago
1. Wilderness 55: Into the Unknown by David Thompson
2. The Trailsman 269: Devil’s Den by Jon Sharpe

Tuesday 27 December 2022


Number 3 of 61
 + 3 Edge meets Steele books + mini-series Edge: The Return, 6 books
By George G. Gilman
Cover art by Ricard Clifton-Dey
NEL, May 1972

The year is 1866. The region is the Arizona Territory. The town is called Rainbow.

The cavalry are there. So is an English gambler. So is Edge. Outside the town waits Cochise and his Apaches.

They are all together at Rainbow’s end.

This book has an extremely high death count as the Apache are determined to wipe the white man out. Farmsteads and ranches are swept aside. People are butchered horrifically. Edge arrives at one such farmstead and views the remains of the slain. Realizes one of the famers daughters has been taken prisoner but there is nothing he can do about it.

Arriving in the town of Rainbow, which is built by a Fort also called Rainbow, Edge meets the English gambler and is soon lured into a hunt for one million dollars that is buried somewhere in the vicinity. With hundreds of Apaches swarming the area, the money isn’t going to be easy to find. And then the Apaches attack the town.

George G. Gilman is still developing the character of Edge but all the main elements are to be found. He’s hard, very hard, and only believes in looking out for himself. He’s quick to act and give orders – which doesn’t go down well with the Fort’s commander. The gallows humour is there but not every chapter ends with a pun as it will in later books. The violence is extremely graphic and some of the torture scenes will make you cringe. Not many of the main, and support, characters will survive. 

Apache Death was always one of my favourites in the Edge series, and after reading it again, it still remains so. The cover art has to be one of the greatest of the entire series. 

George G. Gilman was a pseudonym used by Terry Harknett.

Friday 23 December 2022


By Nate Morgan
Pinnacle Books, December 2022

Former thief and wanted man Carson Stone dreams of a peaceful life on a ranch built by his own hands, but dreams don’t always come without a steep price. To earn a stake, Carson rides west to collect the reward on a claim-jumper. The land is beautiful, but times are hard as the territory is ravaged by the latest Indian war and a mining boom gone bust.

When Stone steps in to defend a family ambushed by murdering marauders, he makes a terrifying discovery: one of the hired killers carries a death list full of names and dollar amounts. But the names on this list belong to upstanding citizens, not criminals. When the local sheriff is gunned down in broad daylight, Carson takes on the one job he never wanted – pinning on a lawman’s tin star to protect the innocent.

A gang of ruthless killers are storming back to finish their work – and Carson Stone has just moved to the top of the death list.

The story begins with a very rich man, Bill Cartwright, hiring a vicious group of cold-hearted killers and handing them the death list. We aren’t told why he wants the people on the list killed. One of the assassins is a beautiful woman, who introduces herself as just Kate, and Cartwright decides to keep her by his side. If you’ve read many westerns, it isn’t too hard to work out why Cartwright wants people killed, and the author soon exposes that reason, but nothing is straight-forward as it seems Kate is playing Cartwright and double-cross is looming.

The author introduces many other great characters, Carson and the bounty hunter he rides alongside are just two. It seems they also have history with Kate, who they know as Lady Pain. There are other characters that seem to come from Carson’s past which began to make me wonder if this is really the first book in the Carson Stone series as is announced on the cover, but more of that later.

The story is told at pace and the tension mounts as the author reveals the double-crosses to the reader but not the characters. Carson also finds himself falling in love as he becomes the centre of a love triangle. Carson doesn’t have much time for the ladies though as there’s too much killing to try to stop. From crooked lawmen to the psychopathic Englishman who likes using a knife on his victims, and it looks like Carson’s lady friends are in his sights. 

Flimsy, desperate plans are put into place and just as quickly discarded before Carson finds himself facing Cartwright in what turns out to be a very bloody final showdown. That’s not the end though, as there’s still the Englishman and Lady Pain to deal with.

This book was a great introduction to a new western hero that I think everyone who likes westerns will enjoy. Nate Morgan is a pseudonym for Victor Gischler, an author who is perhaps better known for his work with Marvel Comics.

Due to the amount of backstory touched on between various characters I do wonder if Dead Man’s Trail is really the first book in the series. A second book, A Short Rope for a Tall Man is due out in April 2023, so, unless that book is a flashback tale then it would seem that the publisher may have put them out in the wrong order as the blurb for the second book indicates it tells the story about how all the characters in this one get to know each other.

Saturday 17 December 2022


Number 12 of 25
By Jon Sharpe
Cover art by Jerome Podwil
Signet, March 1991

Canyon O’Grady knew that the President was targeted for death, by a grisly group that called itself the Blue Goose gang. But Canyon did not know who its members were, or where and when they would hit. On the westward train trip that the President insisted on taking, death could come any minute or any mile…as Canyon faced the toughest challenge and roughest odds of his life…to move faster than an assassin’s bullet and unmask murderers who struck like lightning and burned with hellfire hate….

There’s plenty of action in this fast-moving tale that nearly all takes place on a train at the beginning of February 1861. The fact that President James Buchanan insists on making public speeches in every town they pass through adds to the problems O’Grady has to overcome as these appearances make the President an easy target. Canyon O’Grady also finds himself working alongside a female secret agent for the first time, a woman who is untested in the field. 

The attempts on the President’s life come thick and fast and for some reason I had images of Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoons come into my head as one group of the Blue Goose gang bungled their attacks time after time.

The Canyon O’Grady books are adult westerns so the train does stop overnight a couple of times so that O’Grady can enjoy the company of members of the opposite sex in some explicit encounters.

Using a real life President as the man that O’Grady has to protect does mean that readers will know the killers have to fail but the author still injects some very tense scenes leading up to the various assassination attempts and there are other characters that could well be killed during these attacks. Even though some of the places and methods the Blue Goose gang used to try and kill President Buchanan were very similar, the author managed to keep them interesting so the story didn’t become too repetitive.

Jon Sharpe is a pseudonym shared by a number of different authors, and this time around the man writing behind the penname was Chet Cunningham. This was also his last entry into the series after having written them all from book five and also book three. Railroad Renegades isn’t his best book in the series, but it was still very readable. 

Wednesday 7 December 2022


By William W. Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone
Pinnacle Books, November 2022

Deadwood, South Dakota. Miners flock there seeking fortunes, while cardsharps, bandits, and businessmen seek to deprive those who strike gold by means fair and foul. Legendary former lawman Seth Bullock plans to keep the peace by any means necessary – especially when his good friend, President Theodore Roosevelt, is expected in town to celebrate the anniversary of Deadwood’s founding.

Delayed in Washington, the President has sent his wife and children to the boomtown ahead of his arrival. But Ambrose Neill, a former New Your policeman jailed by Roosevelt for corruption has kidnapped two children in the First Family. Backed by a gang of trigger-happy outlaws and supported by a ruthless senator, Neill plans to politically control the Commander-in-Chief before slaughtering him.

But what Neill and his cohorts don’t realize is that Roosevelt has gathered a deadly posse of rough riders including Bullock – and the legendary father-son gunfighters Frank and Conrad Morgan – who are more likely to bring the gang to justice dead than alive . . . 

The book begins with a couple of incidents from Roosevelt’s past that will shape the plot of this story. The author includes many real life people as well as his fictional cast which brings together some of Johnstone’s most loved characters, the main one in this tale being Conrad Morgan. Roosevelt is attempting to employ Conrad when two of his children are kidnapped so the Kid offers to help save them and brings his father, Frank Morgan, in to help. Later they will team up with Hunter Buchanon. Other Johnstone characters make brief appearances too, such as Smoke, Sally and Denny Jensen.

This is a well written story that is packed with tense situations and engaging characters, both good and bad. As Roosevelt rides to rescue his children the youngsters find themselves in a frying pan into the fire situation as events change and their survival chances become much slimmer. Roosevelt, and his posse, are totally unaware of how things have altered, and their mission looks doomed to failure.

As well as plenty of action scenes, the author also includes moments of humour. The bickering about age between Hunter and Frank making me laugh out loud. Yeap, this story is set in the very early 1900’s, so these familiar characters have aged quite a bit since we last read about them in their own series. Does this also mean that Frank won’t be quite as fast with his gun as he once was when he needs to be?

If you like stories that bring together fictional characters with those that really lived, or tales that see heroes from different series riding and fighting alongside each other then this is a must read. Of course, no fan of the Johnstone books will want to miss this either.