Sunday 31 December 2023


In 2023 I didn't have as much spare time for reading as I would have liked. Other interests and life in general taking up most of my free time. I also read some none westerns, which meant even less time for my favourite genre. The books listed below cover a broad publishing period, from the late 1950's right up to the current day. To read any review just click on the book number. 

1. Hawk 3: Death’s Bounty by William S. Brady
2. Wolf Stockburn, Railroad Detective 4: One Way to Die by Max O’Hara
3. The Man Who Shot Jesse Sawyer by Scott Connor
4. The Ramseys 2: Ramsey’s Luck by Will McLennan
5. The Trailsman 139: Buffalo Guns by Jon Sharpe
6. Sundance: The Wild Stallions by John Benteen
7. Bloody Joe Mannion 3: Saints and Sinners by Peter Brandvold
8. Fort Misery by William W. Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone
9. Longarm and the Golden Death (178) by Tabor Evans
10. Slattery 2: Bullet Welcome for Slattery by Steven C. Lawrence
11. The Battling Harrigans of the Frontier 1: Westbound by Dusty Richards and Matthew P. Mayo
12. Western Adventure, Vol. 3 No. 4, October 1958
13. Slocum 171: Powder River Massacre by Jake Logan
14. Abilene 9: The Tracker by Justin Ladd
15. Will Tanner 2: A Stranger in Town by William W. Johnstone with J.A. Johnstone
16. Jeremiah Halstead 3: The Revengers by Terrence McCauley
17. Morgan Kane 15: Between Life and Death by Louis Masterson
18. A Town Called Bastard by William Terry
19. The Carey Blood by Irving A. Greenfield
20. Gunn 5: Winter Hell by Jory Sherman
21. Devil’s Gulch by William W. Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone
22. Longarm and the Golden Lady (32) by Tabor Evans
23. Captain Tom Skinner 1: Ride a Fast Horse by Kevin Warren
24. Hunter’s Moon by Ty Walker
25. Trail Boss from Texas by Barry Cord
26. Stranger in Town by Clifton Adams
27. Carson Stone 2: A Short Rope for a Tall Man by Nate Morgan
28. Jubal Cade 6: The Burning Man by Charles R. Pike
29. Buck Trammel 5: This Man Must Die by William W. Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone
30. Breed 8: Blood Debt by James A. Muir
31. Cactus Jim Clancy 15: Colt Fever by Stetson Cody
32. Shadow at Noon by Hondo Wells
33. Western Story – January, 1958
34. Holmes on the Range 7: Hunters of the Dead by Steve Hockensmith
35. Easy Company and the Bullwhackers (30) by John Wesley Howard
36. Jeremiah Halstead 4: Born to Hang by Terrence McCauley
37. The Pearl Bothers 1: Trouble on the Smoky Hill by Andrew Weston
38. Devil’s Gulch 2: Shooting Iron by William W. Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone

Review of book read a few years ago and other items
1. The Gunsmith 33: The Posse by J.R. Roberts
2. Slocum by Jake Logan series Bibliography

Sunday 24 December 2023


By William W. Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone
Pinnacle Books, November 2023

One of the deadliest, crime-infested towns in Colorado Territory, Devil’s Gulch needed more than a sheriff. They needed a gunslinger. So, they pinned a badge on hardcase lawman John Holt. And the rest is history….

As the town’s new sheriff, John Holt achieved the impossible: He drove the devil out of Devil’s Gulch. Corrupt, cutthroat rancher Joe Mullen – who ruled the land with an iron fist – is finally behind bars, all thanks to Sheriff Holt. But the tables are turned when Mullen manages to overturn his prison wagon and make his escape – with an army of prisoners, outlaws, and lowlifes to do his bidding.

It doesn’t take long for the streets of Devil’s Gulch to run red with blood. Again. Or for John Holt to be marked for death. Again. But this time, the sheriff’s up against more than a hundred men – all of them gunning for him – and his only allies are an all-too-young deputy, an all-too-angry farmer, and a wayward wagon cook. With odds this bad, Holt is sure of only one thing: When you shoot at the devil, it’s best not to miss.

Picking up shortly after the first book ended, this story sees Holt once again battling against Joe Mullen. Mullen wants revenge, particularly against his wife who betrayed him. That desire gets stronger when Mullen finds out she is seeing another man. Mullen soon sets in motion a plan to satisfy his need for vengeance and to clear his name – and he doesn’t care who he has to kill to achieve his aims. Town politics will also have a part to play and this throws a few twists into the story. Many of the characters from the previous books have parts to play in this one, as do some great new people, such as the cook, Bob, who isn’t all he seems. 

The plot is gripping, and offers some excellent bursts of violent gunplay. The author also takes time to develop his main characters too, exploring their thoughts regarding the situations they find themselves in and how they can use these circumstances to further their greed for power and fortune. New relationships are formed that could cause more problems for John Holt, although not all of these team-ups are wanted by all the parties involved.

Shooting Iron offers a great combination of western action and intriguing political wrangling that easily held my attention throughout and left me eagerly looking forward to the next book in the series.

Saturday 16 December 2023


Book 33 of 486 to date + 19 Giant Editions
By J.R. Roberts
Speaking Volumes, January 2014
Originally published by Charter, October 1984

What kind of men would trample a little girl to death? Only the worse kind of low-down, subhuman varmints – and that’s why Clint Adams agrees to join a posse to track down the gang of murdering bank robbers. But with a posse made up of a resentful deputy and merchants who don’t know one end of a gun from another, the Gunsmith is in for a lot more trouble than he bargained for – especially when he realizes the gang is heading for the one town in the West no lawman has ever entered!

Perhaps one of the more gruesome opening scenes to a Gunsmith book I’ve read and it’s no wonder Adams decides to join the posse.

All the main participants are well drawn – the robbers being portrayed as a bunch of double-crossing, savagely evil characters that had me urging Adams on to deal out some western justice.

The story is fast moving and is very readable. There are lots of references to previous Gunsmith books and this helps create a past for Clint Adams, fleshing out his character well.

The plot builds superbly and sees Adams and his companions facing certain death with no foreseeable way of escape. The method used to ensure Adams survives came across as a little unbelievable to me. A number of real people from America’s history arrive in the nick of time to save the day. Still, this provided an exciting and entertaining finale to the book that overall is a very enjoyable read.

Wednesday 6 December 2023


Book 1 of 4 currently
By Andrew Weston
Independently published, June 2023

A Cheyenne raiding party turns the quiet community of Elder Grove, Kansas, upside down, resulting in the death of a mother and father, and the abduction of their teenage daughters.

All seems lost.

But the Cheyenne didn’t reckon on the leaders of Elder Grove, Jacob and Noah Pearl. Two men with a remarkable shared history, who are a force of nature when roused.

And as the Cheyenne are about to discover, they’re also the kind of men who will do anything to see justice done, even if it means getting their hands dirty.

This is Andrew Weston’s first western and a fine entry into the genre it is. The opening chapter grabbed my attention immediately and had me eagerly turning the pages to see how events developed. Could Jacob and Noah, along with their friend Sam, track the small band of Cheyenne who had kidnapped the two girls and free them?

The author kept switching the narrative between the pursuers and pursued, and occasionally other secondary characters. This allows the reader to witness the deadly situation the two girls find themselves in. How Astrid tries to leave a trail for those she believes are searching for her and her sister to follow and her resolve to survive are some of the highlights of this book.

There is plenty of action too as bands of Indians slaughter various groups of white people, attempting to clear the land of the encroaching white man. Andrew Weston tells his story against this backdrop of rising tensions caused by the US Army’s attempts to supress the Cheyenne, Arapaho and Comanche with the 7th Cavalry and Custer being mentioned a few times. 

The story is a straight-forward pursuit tale, filled with well crafted characters. Attention to character development being another strength of this book. There are one or two surprises that add a shock element to the story and the violence can be hard-hitting at times. Everything came to a fast and violent end that left me looking forward to reading more about the surviving characters.

If you’re looking for a new author to try, then I’d recommend you consider this book by Andrew Weston. 

Thursday 30 November 2023


Book 30 of 31
By John Wesley Howard
Jove, July 1983

The army’s been paying a pretty penny to haul government freight across the dusty plains, but now the quartermaster has a new plan: turn Easy Company into hard-driving teamsters…

So, while Second Lt. Taylor sets out to train his soldiers to be bullwhackers, angry teamsters plot sabotage. In the meantime, Lt. Matt Kincaid has an even bigger problem: someone’s selling army guns to hostile Indians, and Easy Company is taking the blame!

I don’t know who wrote behind the pseudonym of John Wesley Howard this time around, but it more than matches the quality of this overall excellent series. The author includes all the main characters we’ve come to know throughout the series. This book follows two plots, each as gripping as the other, with the author switching between them regularly. 

There are a couple of extra minor storylines too. The first of which sees a couple of soldiers trying to sell goods that have been thrown out by the army to the friendly Indians that live by Outpost Number 9. The other, features Four Eyes Bradshaw and his desire to get married. Both these story threads add some humorous moments to contrast with the more serious tone of the main problems facing Easy Company.

There’s not a lot of gunplay in this book, but there really doesn’t need to be as the main storylines easily kept me turning the pages to find out whether some of the soldiers of Easy Company would become bullwhackers and to discover who was selling the guns to the Indians, that latter of which hooked me with its mystery elements. 

You can jump into this series anywhere as there aren’t any plots that move from book to book, it’s just the soldiers that link the series together. Easy Company is an adult series, so you will find some explicit sex in the stories but there wasn’t that much of it in this book.

The closing scene left me with a big grin on my face and the feeling of having been thoroughly entertained, adding to the many warm memories of the Easy Company series I have as I’ve now read all thirty-one books. If you enjoy army verses Indian stories, and don’t mind a bit of sex in your reading matter, then I’d recommend searching this series out.

Saturday 25 November 2023


By Terrence McCauley
Pinnacle Books, October 2023

Warrants have been issued for the arrest of Jeremiah Halstead and he’s forced into hiding in the harsh Montana wilderness. Alone, desperate and hunted like an animal, Deputy U.S. Marshal Jeremiah Halstead is about to face his day of judgment. But he won’t do it alone. His deputy will side him and they will greet that fateful day with blood and agony.

Terrence McCauley sure piles the odds against Halstead in this book. Short of supplies the outlawed lawman has to fight off bounty hunting trappers before heading into the only town in the region and take his chances against being recognized. Of course, that doesn’t happen and it isn’t long before everyone in Barren Pines knows who he is. Some townsfolk befriend him, but can he trust them? Halsted takes some serious punishment. How can he take on superior odds and survive when he can hardly stand or see straight?

Elsewhere, Aaron Mackey, Halstead’s boss, is attempting to get the warrant rescinded, but that seems to be a difficult political battle. If he’s successful, will it be in time? Joshua Sandborne, Halstead’s deputy, is searching for Halstead in the hope of being able to help him. Emil Riker is also tracking town Halstead, but not to help him, but to kill him in the name of vengeance, and he’s got a pack of killers to back him.

The story switches regularly between the various characters as the author builds the tensions and brings the book towards its inevitable bloody conclusion. There’s plenty of gunplay as the tale moves forward in ever increasing pace. McCauley will soon have you wondering if Halstead is going to survive, especially when you take into account that the publisher Pinnacle seems to end series after only four books these days, and this is the fourth Jeremiah Halstead novel.

For me, Terrence McCauley has written another hard to put down tale. From the gripping opening scenes, he captured my imagination easily, had me eagerly turning the pages to find out what happened next. The excellent ending finished the story in a very satisfactory way and confirmed my belief that Terrence McCauley is right up there with the best western writers being published today. I can only hope that it isn’t too long before we see his name on the front of another western very soon.

Tuesday 31 October 2023

WESTERN STORY - January 1958

WESTERN STORY January 1958
British Edition Vol. 13, No. 1

The four tales within this issue of the British Edition of Western Story were all originally published in the American pulp Star Western Vol. 49, No.2 published in July 1950. The covers of both of these pulps share the same foreground characters in different settings and the girl also has a hair colour change. I’ve posted the Star Western cover below.

The opening story, which is billed as the featured novelette, is Siren of Shamrock Ranch by Joseph Chadwick. Chadwick’s tale held my attention throughout as the outcast Kincaid attempts to prove a man set to hang is innocent by finding the real killer.
Kincaid has received a letter from an unknown party asking him to help. Half a thousand-dollar bill is included with the letter too, with the promise of the other half when he finds the real killer. Kincaid’s investigations are complicated by two young ladies who seem to hate each other and his feelings for them.
Siren of Shamrock Ranch was a fun read spoiled by the publisher’s inclusion of a line drawing at the beginning of the story that gives away the identity of the bad guy, although it does capture a scene from the tale well.

Next comes the first of three short stories, although why Worth Her Weight in Bullets! By Bob Obets is referred to as a short story when it’s two pages longer than the featured novelette I’m not sure – in Star Western it is called a novelette. This is a tale of a partnership welded by blood spilled in battle and endless cruel days on the trail that becomes strained when both Tom McCabe and Turk Buckley fall for the same nester girl, which will see them on opposite sides in a cattle rustling plot.
I wasn’t as keen on this story as the previous tale, as it seemed to take forever to get to the meat of the story and I did contemplate giving up on it after a few pages. Worth Her Weight in Bullets! ended as expected.

Girl Gun-Guard for the Devil! by Clifton Adams is a fast-paced short story about Morry Rockland who had sworn to kill a man and was within inches of doing so when he met the lush and tempting woman who, in her turn, had sworn the hunted killer must not die.
This was easily my favourite tale within this issue of Western Story as both Rockland and the girl have valid reasons to either kill or defend Jay Holland, and the story becomes a battle of wills.

The last tale, The Girl from Boothill by Francis H. Ames, is about a man searching for his brother’s killer. He hopes to find the truth in Pima Valley’s Boar’s Nest and conceals his identity behind a pseudonym. Trouble is a waitress recognizes him, although she keeps this to herself, but there is always the fear she will expose him for who he really is. Things are soon complicated by another young woman and there are some shocks to uncover about his brother. Everything is resolved neatly in a swift shootout.

The only author in this collection that I’ve read before is Clifton Adams. Of the others, Chadwick and Ames entertained me enough to want to read more by them. Obets’ story didn’t grab me enough to make me want to search out more of his work.

Overall, this was an entertaining enough pulp that is worth reading if you can find a copy.

Sunday 15 October 2023


By Steve Hockensmith
Rough Edges Press, October 2023

The A.A. Western Detective Agency takes on a new case in 1894 Wyoming, a land of bandit gangs and rustlers, when a group of scientists come to town in the hopes of rustling up something very different – dinosaur fossils. 

With Big Red and Old Red Amlingmeyer on protection duty, Old Red's obsession with Sherlock Holmes is forced to take a back seat. Until a human body is shockingly discovered during an excavation, that is. 

As the mystery deepens, these cowboy detectives must put their sleuthing skills to the test to catch a killer stalking their client's dig site. 

With death lurking around every corner, can the Double-A Western Detective Agency catch the killer before it's too late?

It's been a few years since the Amlingmeyer brothers last rode the range, so it’s great to see them return in a new adventure involving rival groups of palaeontologists squabbling over the discovery of the bones of the largest and most complete diplodocus ever found. It’s the remains of this dinosaur that the Amlingmeyer’s have been hired to guard, but when Old Red unearths a much newer corpse buried in the dig site the job becomes much more complicated as a murderer has to be unmasked. Old Red is soon in his element as he sets to discover just who the killer is and why, using methods learnt from reading how his idol, Sherlock Holmes, goes about identifying murderers. 

The story is told in the first person, through Big Red, and his humorous observations are a delight to read and gave me many laugh-out-loud moments. Big Red’s relationship with one of the other operatives from the A.A. Western Detective Agency, Eskaminzim, also had me grinning as the Apache proved over and over again how easy it would be to kill Big Red.

It doesn’t take long for Steve Hockensmith to make readers suspicious of all the characters. Any one of them could be the killer. Old Red mostly keeps his deductions close to his chest, unless he needs to reveal one of them to get a reaction that could lead to another clue. This puts both him and his brother is some very sticky situations that could easily lead to their deaths.

I gave up trying to work out who the murderer was and what was the motive behind the killing, and just read the book for pure enjoyment as I became captivated by the twisting plot and marvelled at how the smallest observation could become a major clue in solving the case. 

Although this story is mainly a murder mystery tale, it keeps a western feel throughout, and includes some excellent gunplay. The end of the book resolves everything neatly and also sets up another case for the Amlingmeyer brothers to solve. Hopefully I won’t have too long to wait before that story is published and, in the meantime, I’m off to munch on a nut butter sandwich.

Friday 29 September 2023


By Hondo Wells
Cover art by John Hunt
Mews, March 1977
Original: Pyramid Books, 1955, as by Harry White

Clane was cornered by Dardac, the bounty hunter. Dardac wanted the money for his hide and would stop at nothing to get it.

It was no use trying to tell the bounty hunter that he is innocent. To him Jeff Clane was nothing but a wild animal, something to be killed and hung over his saddle, another bounty to be collected…

This is not an overly complicated plot, even though it combines two much used western storylines – that of a man accused of a murder he did not commit and the theme of a greedy rancher wanting to chase homesteaders out of a valley he wants to claim as his own. What raises the standard is how this tale is told. The author’s lean prose and noir feel make this a very readable book.

Clane is guilty of killing the man he is accused of murdering, but he did so in self-defence. No-one seems to care about that though, not least the vicious bounty hunter Dardac. The book starts with a wounded Clane being tended to by a homesteader family whose attractive daughter, Patience, sees Clane as a way to escape her current lifestyle. Clane sees her as the answer to what he has been searching for but refuses to acknowledge these feelings as he knows death is stalking him and will claim anyone around him too. It’s also great to read about a man who has been shot not getting over it within a few pages, suffering from his wound throughout the story.

It’ll be no surprise to see Clane become involved in the range war, standing up against the powerful rancher and his gun-hands even though he wants to go and lead Dardac away from the people who’ve helped him. Things get even more complicated when the bounty hunter falls for Patience too and he won’t take no for an answer which leads to a brutal scene between the girl and Dardac. Most of the characters have to deal with both physical and mental pain and it’s the latter agonies that give this book its strengths.

Hondo Wells and Harry White are both pseudonyms, the man behind them being Harry Whittington. Shadow at Noon is not the best western Whittington wrote, but it is certainly worth reading.

Monday 18 September 2023


Book 15 of 24
By Stetson Cody
Panther Books, September 1963
Originally published by W.A. Allen, 1960

Cattleman, Dan Hollis, is tricked into an ambush by trigger-slammers in the main street of Baxter. It seems only a miracle could save him from an ugly death. To Hollis the intervention of Cactus Jim Clancy at that crisis in his unhappy life might well have been that miracle.

The Cactus Jim Clancy westerns were originally published in hardback, all by W.A. Allen except the last two. The second-last published by Jenkins, and the final book by Hale. W.A. Allen did put some out under their paperback imprint too. Panther Books began a run of five paperbacks starting with Colt Fever. The first Cactus Jim Clancy book appeared in 1949 and the last in 1973.

I guess it won’t be a surprise to anyone to discover that Stetson Cody is a pseudonym. The author behind the name being Leonard Gribble who also wrote westerns as Lee Denver, Landon Grant, Chuck Kelso, and Steve Shane.

Colt Fever is the first book by Gribble I’ve read. 

The story is very traditional. Clancy is a range detective looking out for his employers’ interests and arrives in Baxter to discover why Hollis hasn’t been paying back his loan. The plot is standard fare. It’s a range grab tale with a couple of twists and turns thrown in for good measure. Gribble’s prose is of its time, fairly hardboiled with a lot of western colloquialisms that come from the pulps. These add a neat flavour to the tale.

Gribble mixes the range grab plot with a subplot involving a con-artist and his sister, who are being pursued by an undercover detective. There is also a strong role for another woman, Clarice who is Hollis’ wife. She is sleeping with the Jud Allen, the man who wants to take over the Hollis ranch. Allen also has more problems in that one of his hired guns is attempting to horn in on his business. As various characters set up plans to double-cross each other, so the story becomes more complicated before all the plot threads combine to bring about a satisfactory ending.

I was surprised to find that Cactus Jim Clancy wasn’t in the book that much. Gribble mainly tells the story through the other characters and Clancy just pops up now-and-again to orchestrate the way to deal with problems. He does get involved in some of the gunplay too.

Overall, I found this to be an entertaining enough read to want to read another, but maybe not straightaway.

Thursday 31 August 2023


Book 8 0f 22
By James A. Muir
Cover art by Colin Backhouse
Sphere Books, 1979

The Kiowas slaughtered Amos and Eliza Marker without pity. But they took young Jeb, raised him and taught him to be a warrior. To live like a Kiowa. Think like a Kiowa. Kill like a Kiowa.

When Matthew Gunn, known and feared as Breed, was called by rich businessman Ty Horn, he didn’t know that Horn was Eliza Marker’s brother. Or that Horn had some crazy sentimental idea about saving Jeb from the Indians after all this time. Even when he knew, he didn’t care. The rich white man was offering a whole heap of money for the ‘rescue’. And soon Breed had a debt of honour to be settled with the Kiowas – a debt to be paid strictly in torture, destruction and death . . .

I remember really liking this book when it was first published. I’ve read it a couple of times between then and now. Rereading it again, I found my enjoyment hadn’t diminished in any way. I particularly like how Horn is stubborn, or just doesn’t listen when Gunn explains how Jeb won’t want to return to the life of a white man, won’t even remember his uncle. This can only finish with an unhappy ending for some of the characters, can’t it?

Once the man known as Breed gives his word, he’ll put his life on the line to fulfil his promise. There’s plenty of times this will happen as he tracks down Jeb, now known as Mahka. The action scenes are described in gory detail, adding to the brutal harshness of the story.

James A. Muir is a pseudonym for British author Angus Wells and, like with the other novelists now known as the Piccadilly Cowboys, his books contain lots of references to people in the trade at that time and to western book and/or movie characters. Blood Debt is dedicated to Nick Tryhorn, so it’s obvious where the businessman’s name came from. Breed teams up with a man called John Havee – another of the Piccadilly Cowboys is author John Harvey. We also find characters called Hedges with thinly disguised references to another western hero who was born with that name, although he is mostly known as Edge. Breed also briefly meets a man called Ethan and his companion who seem to be searching for something or someone. Another of John Wayne’s movie characters also gets a mention, Nathan Brittles from the film She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. Whenever I read a Piccadilly Cowboy western, I look forward to seeing who will get mentioned during the story, real or fictional, as it always makes me grin.

I must also comment on the excellent cover art done by Colin Backhouse. He, and others who fronted the U.K.’s westerns at this time, must have worked closely with the authors as the paintings more often than not illustrate a scene from the story, as is the case here.

If you’re a fan of the Breed series, Angus Wells, the Piccadilly Cowboys, or just tough savage westerns, then this is a book you won’t want to miss. These old paperback series are not the easiest to find these days, and if you do, they are often priced ridiculously high, so you might be pleased to discover that Piccadilly Publishing are putting them out as ebooks at very good prices. Breed 8: Blood Debt was published in ebook form this month.

Tuesday 29 August 2023


By William W. Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone
Pinnacle Books, June 2023

In the world of criminal lawbreakers in Laramie County, Lucian Clay was king. He terrorized the locals, robbed every business in the territory, and ruled the place with a merciless iron fist. Thankfully he’s behind bars now – along with a load of other prairie rats – thanks to Laramie’s new sheriff, Buck Trammel. Unfortunately, Trammel can only enforce the law while others specialize in working around it: namely lawyers. And no lawyer is more crooked or corrupt than the belly-crawling snake Clay hired to get him out. By any means possible . . . 

Their breakout plan is simple: The lawyer will wait until midnight. Then he’ll break in to the county jail to bust his client out. He’ll scale the walls, kill the guards, ambush the deputies, and release the prisoner. There’s just one catch: As soon as Clay is freed, the other convicts want out, too. Which sparks total chaos in the prison, creates a distraction for Clay – and unleashes the worst blood-soaked night of murderous mayhem Buck Trammel has ever witnessed. And will never forget. If he survives . . . 

The violent jailbreak is the opening part of this book, which leads to Trammel and two others riding in pursuit of the lawyer and Clay. Back in Laramie political wrangling takes place to have the lawman removed from his job. The lawyer, Bessler, has plans for Clay’s money, and neither of these two men trust the other. A stagecoach crew also get mixed up in this deadly chain of events ensuring there is never a dull moment in this fast-moving tale.

The author plots well, describes the action sequences in visual prose. His dialogue is believable. His characters tough and single-minded. Nothing will stop them achieving their aims. Trammel and his very small posse won’t have it all their own way either and will have to suffer greatly as they attempt to track their quarry down.

I’ve enjoyed the previous four books in this series, and this one was just as gripping as those. It’s hard to say more without including major spoilers, so I won’t, other than to add that this tale is a must read for western fans. You don’t need to have read any of the previous books to enjoy this one, for there’s enough backstory mentioned to explain what has gone before. In ways this is also a new beginning for Trammel, as sheriff of a new town. 

It’s also interesting to note that the stagecoach business is called The Frontier Overland Company and that is the title of a new series the Johnstone’s are launching later this year, presumably written by the same author of this book. So, for me, that means I have a new series to look forward to as well as another Buck Trammel book that should be out in December. 

Saturday 12 August 2023

Slocum Bibliography

Over the last few of months, I’ve been helping Anders N. Nilsson compile a bibliography on Jake Logan’s Slocum series. 

The Slocum series began in 1975 and continued into 2014. There were 430 regular sized books, many of which we reprinted a number of times, and 17 giant editions. 

The bibliography names many of the authors who wrote behind the pseudonym of Jake Logan. It also details which books were reprinted and how many times, including foreign publications. There is other data about the books too.

If anyone can supply information that will help fill in the gaps, or provide us with corrections, then please comment below.

You can find the bibliography here: The Bibliography

Images of all the covers can be found here: Book Covers

Friday 21 July 2023


Book 6 of 22
By Charles R. Pike
Cover art by Richard Clifton-Dey
Mayflower/Granada Publishing, 1976
ebook, Piccadilly Publishing, July 2023

The negro hung from the flaming cross and watched. In front of his burning cabin the white-robed figures of the Klu Klux Klan repeatedly raped his wife. Then came Jubal Cade to spit death from his .30 calibre Spencer . . . 

When they post the reward for the capture of the Klan’s Grand Dragon, the bounty-hunters flood into St Louis. But Jubal Cade is there before them. He has seen the Klan’s savagery first-hand. And Jubal is a man who knows all about vengeance.

Cade gets involved with the Klan whilst visiting Andy Prescott, the young blind boy Jubal has taken under his wing. Cade is constantly trying to raise money so Andy can have medical care and now there’s a chance an operation will restore Andy’s sight. The money Cade could secure by bringing in the Klan’s leader would pay for that operation, and when the Klan kidnap the head of the clinic, Cade has two reasons for destroying the Klan.

The author behind the pseudonym of Charles R. Pike is Angus Wells and he brings together a lot of the series threads for this tale. Being in St. Louis brings Cade face to face with the man who has sworn to have Jubal killed, Ben Agnew. Now they have a common enemy. Can they put the past behind them for a while to take on the Klan and unmasked the Grand Dragon?

Like in many of the books written by the group of authors now known as the Piccadilly Cowboys, there is lots of references to them and the western characters they wrote about. Many of the characters names in this story are made up from combinations of these authors names and other people in the book publishing business. For instance, a fair portion of this tale takes place on a sternwheeler and this boat is named the William M. James – the author name fronting the Apache series.

Although Angus Wells wrote most of the books in this series he didn’t write the first three or create the character of Jubal Cade. Terry Harknett started the series, an author probably better known to western fans as George G. Gilman whose hero Edge is a favourite of many readers. Edge appears in person in The Burning Man, stepping out of the shadows to shotgun a man to death, saving Cade’s life. Edge and Jubal have a conversation that references a very well-known spaghetti western character a couple of times, and this exchange of words is one of the highlights of the book for me. 

I once asked Terry if he had anything to do with Edge appearing in this book and he said he couldn’t remember much about how it came about but did entertain the possibility that he wrote this section, or co-wrote it with Angus. If he didn’t, Angus captured the character of Edge extremely well, not just in action but also in his speech and gallows humour. 

The Burning Man contains lots of violent bloody action, something that Well’s excels at in his gory descriptions. With Cade being a doctor Wells has opportunities to describe in detail Cade’s attempts to save lives too. Wells doesn’t give Cade an easy ride of it either, Jubal has to endure suffering, not due to physical wounds, but mentally – to say more would be a major spoiler so that’s all I’m going to reveal here. To add some light-relief to the more brutal scenes, Well’s includes lots of groan-worthy humours comments, mainly coming from Jubal, that had me laughing out loud at times.

The Burning Man is a very good entry into this excellent series. This book is a must read for anyone following the series due to its connections with earlier books plotlines and a character Cade met in book five have roles to play in this story too. The inclusion of Edge in this story makes this book essential reading for fans of George G. Gilman’s most famous character as well as those who enjoy Angus Wells’ work.

Friday 14 July 2023


By Nate Morgan
Pinnacle Books, May 2023

The most wanted man in the West, Big Bob McGraw has earned his reputation as a thief and killer. With a gang of trigger-happy desperadoes willing to do his bidding, McGraw has robbed banks, stagecoaches, and railroads, raised hell ravaging towns, and left bodies littering the streets in his wake.

Carson Stone rode with McGraw’s gang exactly once, minding their horses during a bank robbery, before quitting. But with the marshal of El Paso, Texas, gunned down in cold blood as the bandits escaped, he’d been judged guilty by association. To clear his name, Carson teams up with bounty hunter Colby Tate to track down the outlaws – now scattered across the frontier – and bring them to justice. And Carson must convince his partner to bring McGraw in alive or he’ll never escape the shadow of the hangman’s noose.

Packed with a great set of characters, this book pulled me in from the opening scenes. Stone’s task seems almost impossible even when he teams up with a couple of bounty hunters as McGraw’s whereabouts is unknown. Will he be able to persuade the bounty hunters to bring McGraw in alive? These questions, and more, kept me turning the pages. 

Nate Morgan, a pseudonym for Victor Gischler, includes plenty of gunplay that is fairly graphic in its description. He doesn’t give Stone an easy ride either as he will soon have to face the reality of double-cross – this twist adding a neat unforeseen surprise element to the story as long as you haven’t read the first published Carson Stone book, Dead Man’s Trail.

Dead Man’s Trail was published in December 2022. I read and reviewed it here. I wondered then if Pinnacle had made a mistake in the order they put these two books out, and I’m convinced of it now. This is such a shame as Dead Man’s Trail has a lot of references to the storyline of A Short Rope for a Tall Man and reading them as published really spoilt the twists in A Short Rope for a Tall Man. If you have both these books but have yet to read them, may I suggest you read them in the wrong order to get the most enjoyment out of them, or just think of it as a prequel.

Having read them both, I can only hope that we haven’t heard the last of Carson Stone. 

Friday 30 June 2023


By Clifton Adams
Panther Books, December 1963
First published in GB by Robert Hale Ltd, 1962
First published in America by Doubleday, 1960

They called him ‘Dumb John’, mocked him, provoked him – and hanged him from a cotton wood tree. Only then did they discover his true identity – and the whole town recoiled in terror from the stranger who walked their streets with death as his shadow, searching for the men who had lynched his brother.

I think this is the first book I’ve read which carries the authors’ real name. Long ago I read some, if not all, of the Amos Flagg series Adams put out under the pseudonym Clay Randall but I can’t really remember much about them, so I came to this book not knowing what to expect.

The main themes are vengeance, redemption and justice. Lynch law sets the tale in motion and soon the guilt of those who hanged John Salem is the main story thread. Ben McDermit is the lawman who was out of town when the posse strung up John. McDermit is furious that they didn’t imprison John to be tried by judge and jury. A letter in John’s pocket reveals his true identity and that his brother is the notorious killer Jute McCoy. Now fear grips the town and any strangers who arrive are held in suspicion and driven out of town, until a man called Kelso comes to Menloe and refuses to leave.

Matters get worse when Kelso kills two of the posse after they try to force out of town. McDermit jails Kelso for his own safety but a lynch mob demands he’s handed over. McDermit isn’t convinced Kelso is McCoy. The is Kelso really who he says he is or is he actually McCoy is the new question that the whole story now revolves around. Many characters believe he is Kelso and think that by hanging him all their troubles will go away, but McDermit can’t let that happen. This creates some very tense scenes throughout the book as Kelso never says he is McCoy, but doesn’t deny it either.

Adams builds the suspense extremely well in this hardboiled tightly plotted tale. He creates feelings of fear and guilt superbly. Hopelessness too, as McDermit questions whether he can keep Kelso alive long enough to discover if he is McCoy or not. The one female, Leah, is just as strong willed as the male characters. McDermit is secretly in love with her, but struggles to understand her actions – one minute she’s leading a lynch mob out for Kelso’s blood, and then she’s tending to the man when he is wounded. All this makes it impossible to predict how the book will end.

Stranger in Town proved to be an excellent reintroduction to the work of Clifton Adams and I’ll certainly be on the lookout for more of his books. 

Monday 26 June 2023


By Barry Cord
A Belmont Tower Book

On his first night in the Timberlake County Larry Brennan fought in a street brawl with a young tough, discovered a corpse in his hotel room, struggled frantically in the dark for his Colt .45 and found himself accused of murder.

Brennan had come to Timberlake to deliver six hundred head of cattle to Jeff Halliday, only to find Halliday clubbed to death, and Halliday’s nephew the prime murder suspect.

Caught in the killing crossfire between ranchers and unscrupulous land barons, Brennan made a desperate bid to save the Halliday ranch and the future of the whole valley.

I’m not sure when Belmont Tower published this book as all it says inside is that it was first published in 1948 by Phoenix Press. I bit of internet research reveals that it appeared in Better Publications pulp West – Vol. 69, No. 1, May 1948. The pulp story was titled Boss of the Tumbling H. Whether the paperback version was expanded I don’t know. I do believe it was the first paperback to appear as by Barry Cord, which is a pseudonym used by Peter Germano.

In the UK, Robert Hale published the book as part of its Black Horse Western line in 1995, but used the original title for their version. In 2003 BBC Audiobooks published it as one of their Gunsmoke Western hardbacks under the new title of Gun Boss of Triangle. For some reason the lead character, Larry Brennan had a name change to Jim Carmody. As far as I can tell all the other characters remain true to the original.

The story is very traditional in its plot and you can probably guess how it’s going to conclude. Having said that, the author does spice it up by adding some mystery into the tale, such as the true identity of the town lawman McVail and how he knows the Ace of Spades ranch owner, Allison. These elements of the story I didn’t work out before the author decided to reveal all, and they lifted the book from just being another land-grab tale. Cord’s writing style gives the book a hardboiled tone and the action scenes are particularly well told. 

I’ve always enjoyed Barry Cord’s westerns, and Trail Boss from Texas proved to be just as entertaining as the others, although I wouldn’t say it was his best work, but it is definitely worth a read. 

Friday 23 June 2023


By Ty Walker
Cover art by Prieto Muriana
The Crowood Press, November 2017

Hunter Lane Chandler returns to Rattlesnake Valley with fresh game to sell to the townsfolk only to discover the town is seemingly empty. In the sheriff’s office, he finds the veteran lawman has been killed. Then in the livery stable he finds the slaughtered body of the blacksmith.

Soon he finds that a deadly bunch of outlaws known as Corbin’s Raiders have not only killed several of the townsfolk, but have also taken schoolteacher Molly Drew with them.

Chandler sets out to rescue Molly. But he soon finds out that hunting men is far more dangerous than hunting animals.

Ty Walker is one of a number of pseudonyms used by author Michael D. George, his most famous perhaps being Rory Black, the name he uses for his Iron Eyes series. Under his own name and his aliases, he wrote over 100 Black Horse Westerns, most of which are series books. George also wrote a fistful of stand-alone titles and Hunter’s Moon is one of those.

George writes in a stylistic and visual way that brings to mind the gritty, harsh violent spaghetti westerns. Men, and women, kill without giving it a second thought. His stories often delve into the darker side of human nature and this one certainly does that. To say more about this aspect of the tale would be a major spoiler. All I will say is that it is fairly shocking.

Chandler makes for an interesting hero. He’s repulsed by what has happened to many of the townsfolk of Rattlesnake Valley and when he finds out Molly Drew has been taken – the girl he secretly loves – he swears to get her back and kill those responsible, even though he has never taken the life of a human being. Will he be able to squeeze the trigger when the time comes?

The author brings the book to a dramatic finale that takes place in the eerie red light of a blood moon giving the ending an almost surreal feel.

Specific Black Horse Westerns can be hard to track down these days, as they were produced for the library market rather than book stores, but they do turn up second-hand regularly. If you’d like to read this one you’ll find it easier to get a copy if you don’t mind reading ebooks, as The Crowood Press made most of those they published available in electronic as well as paper form.  


Tuesday 20 June 2023


By Kevin Warren
Pinnacle Books, June 2023

Damnable news has reached Fort Verde. Outlaw Jessup Henry and his gang of thugs are raising hell north of Santa Fe, one homestead massacre after another. Now they’re on the run in Arizona Territory evading the law. Cavalryman Tom Skinner’s command: charge south with his patrol and wipe them out. But Skinner knows the land. Military decree be damned, he’s deserting the wayward route – against orders – for the right one. There’s more at risk than his career. In Jessup’ path is the vulnerable ranch of his newfound love, Veronica, and her family.

After a race to deliverance, Skinner arrives too late. Veronica and her brothers are still alive but what his courageous gal’s been through pushes Skinner over the edge. Now it’s a breakneck gallop toward vengeance. Every outlaw on the Mogollon Rim is a target. Every bone-jarring mile is more treacherous than the last. This aims to be the bloodiest road a soldier’s ever tread. For Skinner and his prey, the one who rides hardest will be the last one alive.

According to the bio at the end of the book, this is Kevin Warren’s debut novel. The book reads like he’s been writing for a lifetime. His words and plotting more than matching anything put out by seasoned pros.

The story is set in 1889. Warren’s opening scenes introduce the main characters and easily pulled me into the tale. The book includes a few flashback sequences written in italics that explain how Skinner met Veronica and his friendships with his men, one in particular. Descriptions of landscapes are excellent, giving a superb picture of the harsh land that the story takes place in. Dialogue is believable and the action scenes are hard hitting and brutal at times. Warren obviously knows his horses, and includes lots of detail about riding and caring for them. The plot also contains a bit of intrigue in how Skinner and his men are going to stop his commanding officers’ man, who rides with them, reporting back as to how Skinner failed to follow his orders. There’s a neat twist at the end that helps bring everything to a satisfactory conclusion that left me eager to read book two, The Night Holds Terror, as soon as it is published. 

If you’ve not picked up a copy of this book yet, may I suggest you do so now. Kevin Warren is certainly a western author worth keeping an eye on.

Tuesday 13 June 2023


Number 32 of 436 plus 29 Giant Editions
By Tabor Evans
Jove Publications, May 1981

Colorado planned a gala reception for the copper-haired Princess Danica of Hungary. But a band of Slavic rebels had plans of their own for her Highness…

To stop them cold, Longarm goes undercover and, following a hot lead, joins a traveling circus. In the death-defying world of the Big Top, he meets the Golden Lady, a seductive living doll just four feet tall, who shows him that shocking things can come from small packages…

The setting of a circus makes this an unusual western, as do many of the lead characters, most of whom are part of the sideshow of freaks. The author really seems to enjoy himself creating these fascinating people, and it is them that Longarm is going to interact with the most as he attempts to discover just which of the circus folk could be hatching a plot to assassinate the Princess. The vast majority of this book takes place in the circus and at times it’s easy to forget you are reading a western.

The book’s opening scenes are pure western, tense and gritty. This leads to a later problem that blows Longarm’s undercover role and turns friends within the circus against him. They don’t trust lawmen. 

The author writing behind the pseudonym is Harry Whittington, perhaps better known for his crime novels, and elements from those books creep into this one. The hard-boiled approach to his writing, his references to women as being dames to name but two. Whittington also spends quite a lot of time describing characters, really painting visual imagery of them for the reader. I was also surprised at the lack of description when Longarm spends time with a woman, keeping in mind this is an adult western series, there is very little in the way of graphic portrayals of these scenes, most just hinting at these encounters. The story also contains one of the most bizarre scenes I’ve read in a Longarm book, or any other western for that matter.

The book clocks in at 220 pages, each having 40 lines of fairly small print, making this a longer than usual read for a regular sized Longarm novel. It does contain a few blank pages though so all chapters can start on a right-hand page. 

I enjoyed this book a lot, even though I did find the pace a little slow at times. The setting, and the people that make up the sideshow of freaks will stick in my mind for a long time. If you want to read a western that’s a little different to the norm, then this book is definitely worth tracking down.

Wednesday 31 May 2023


By William W. Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone
Pinnacle Books, May 2023

John Holt is a traveling gunslinger. He’s been liberating dirty towns west of the Mississippi of murdering outlaw trash ever since the Civil War ended. No questions asked. Payment on demand.

Holt’s latest job is in Devil’s Gulch in Colorado Territory. But wiping out bands of bank robbers is just the beginning. More disorder is brewing, and the skittish mayor has handpicked Holt as the new sheriff. Holt is what the town needs: a mercenary with a badge, a loaded Remington, and a deadeye-aim for trouble.

Devil’s Gulch has the vigilante committee. The man behind it – Joe Mullen, the largest rancher and mine owner in the valley – isn’t keen on an outsider like Holt muscling in on a good thing. Mullen already has his hand in all the crime in Devil’s Gulch. He also triggers it. He likes keeping things wild. With the barbaric Bostrom brood under his command, he’s hoping it stays that way.

Holt quickly finds himself on familiar ground: up against cutthroats on the other side of the only law that counts. Holt’s law. Devil’s Gulch is his town now. And he’s itching to clean it till it sparkles.

Devil’s Gulch is the first book in another new series from the Johnstone’s. If the following books are as good as this one, then the Johnstone’s have yet another hit series on their hands.

John Holt is tough. Real tough. As soon as he arrives in Devil’s Gulch, he begins laying down the law. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like his rules as long as you follow them. If you don’t, you’re likely to be on the receiving end of a fist or bullet. If you’re still alive you’ll find yourself in jail damn quick. It doesn’t matter who you are either. Holt is not here to make friends, just do his job, his way.

To say Holt’s brutal attitude doesn’t go down well with the townsfolk, including those who hired him, is an understatement of magnificent proportions. Seems the only person that likes him is the undertaker who see’s Holt’s methods as good for business. Leading Sibert to say he wants a statue erected in Holt’s honor as he’s better for his business than the plague.

As well as outlawry there is political turmoil in Devil’s Gulch. Different sides vying for control. Even people on the same side are ready to double-cross each other without hesitation. Holt really does have his hands full of trouble, and judges and lawyers give him even more headaches to contend with. 

As you’ll now realize, there is a lot going on in this book. The author weaves his various plot threads in an entwined ball that will take Holt a lot of strength, and bullets, to untangle. There are many other great characters too, strong-willed men and women that are a joy to read about, be they good or evil or somewhere in between. All this makes Devil’s Gulch a gripping read. The author also includes some terrific twists that I didn’t see coming, especially the connection between Mullen and the Bostrom gang. The final few chapters also spring some excellent surprises that really made me wonder how this story was going to end. 

Whoever wrote this book really does know how to ensnare a reader and ensure they keep turning the pages. The closing scenes really left me looking forward to the second book in the series, Shooting Iron, that is set to be released in October.