Friday, 27 January 2023


Number 4 of 4
By Max O’Hara
Pinnacle Books, January 2023

When train robbers hit the Boot Hill Express – so called because of all the people riding it who have ended up dead – with a head full of steam, Wolf Stockburn makes quick work of them. But the gun smoke has barely cleared when a second gang attacks, catching Stockburn by surprise. In a hail of hot lead, he falls from the train and the thieves kill two guards and make off with the cattle the train was hauling.

Now it’s a matter of honor and payback as he trails the outlaws – his only clue a hoofprint showing a faint star shape. Dodging a deadly bushwhacker, Stockburn, hell-on-wheels angry, teams up with a beautiful half-Comanche hellcat and follows a twisted trail of bullet-ridden corpses to a final reckoning in a Mexican ghost town – where bad men end up dead . . . on the wrong side of the tracks.

Right from the start this tale is all action. Sure, there are moments when Stockburn manages to catch his breath, but even then, he’s in constant danger from an unknown sniper who could take a shot at any time. Stockburn soon has many more questions than he does answers, such as who is stealing the cattle and why? Who is the sniper? Can the various lawmen he meets be trusted? One of these officers of the law seems to want to put a hole in Stockburn’s head – can Stockburn talk him out of this? 

Readers of the previous Wolf Stockburn books aren’t going to want to miss this one. If you’ve not read any of the earlier books it doesn’t matter as the author fills you in on any background information you may need, especially as one of the characters that appeared in the first Stockburn novel has an important role to play in this book too.

It isn’t a secret as to the identity of the author writing behind the pseudonym of Max O’Hara, and that man is Peter Brandvold. This book contains all the qualities he is known for – a twisting gritty plot, descriptive prose that places you right in with the action, hard men and equally tough women, and some graphic violence. There is a notable lack of bad language and the book doesn’t contain any explicit sex.

One thing I’d like to highlight is the book’s blurb (which you can read above) which isn’t completely correct as Stockburn isn’t on the train when the second gang strike and none of the part after ‘hell-on-wheels angry’ is part of the storyline. I certainly wasn’t disappointed that these elements weren’t to be found in the book, as what does happen makes for some very exciting and gripping reading.

I’ve seen comments from Peter Brandvold indicating that this is the last Wolf Stockburn book. I think that is a shame as Wolf Stockburn is a great character and I think he deserves a longer run. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that the publisher contracts some more. 

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