Friday 31 March 2023


Book 171 of 430 + 17 Giant Editions
By Jake Logan
Berkley Books, May 1993

Slocum’s working for the railroad, and the advance men are dropping like flies at the hands of marauding Sioux warriors. Slocum doesn’t much like the odds, but he has a job to do.

That job gets complicated when a cavalry troop led by a revenge-crazed officer goes after the Indians. Slocum can’t let the man kill women and children just because they’re in the way. Now he’s got both the Indians and the trooper after him – and no one’s going to rest easy until Slocum’s out of the picture…permanently!

I don’t know who the author is writing behind the pseudonym of Jake Logan for this entry in the long running series, but they created an interesting storyline and their descriptive prose in particular was a joy to read. The opening chapter really painted an excellent sense of time and place, along with some gripping tension.

It's been a while since I’ve read a Slocum book, and I can’t remember reading one that portrays the hero in the way that this author does. Slocum isn’t a very forceful character, doesn’t push his point and agrees to do things that go against his beliefs – partly to stop a full-blown war erupting between the Sioux and the calvary. Slocum also came across as shy where women are concerned. He was described as blushing when it was suggested he spent some private time with the led woman of the story (who is nothing like the lady depicted on the cover). The Slocum I remember is confident in both his abilities and with women. Putting these little niggles aside, this is a very readable western.

The Slocum books are classed as an adult series, yet this one contained very little in the way of explicit sex. Nothing erotic happens for over 100 pages and by that time I’d almost forgotten there would be some scenes of a sexual nature and when they did arrive, they were dealt with over a couple of pages, almost as if the author wanted to get back to the struggle between the soldiers and the Sioux as fast as possible.

Even though the story played out much as I expected I had no idea as to how the Sioux were going to capture the troopers without killing any of them, and wanting to discover how this would be achieved, if it could be, kept me glued to the pages. 

Powder River Massacre proved to be a good entry into the series, one that has me thinking that I should read more Slocum books sooner rather than later.

Tuesday 28 March 2023


British Edition Vol 3, No. 4

The four tales to be found in this British edition of Western Adventure were all originally published in the American pulp Western Story, Vol. 196, No. 5, January 1942. The cover art was done by H.W. Scott but whether he redid it or someone else copied it for the British edition I don’t know. If you study both covers, you’ll see many subtle changes. You can view the American cover at the end of this post.

The first yarn, and featured novelette is Wolf of the Toltecs by Philip Ketchum. This is the much-used landgrab story, with one man, Ben Broadman seeking vengeance on those who killed his friends. It’s a tough tale that sees Broadman become a wanted man and he soon seems to care for nothing other than getting his revenge, no matter who gets hurt along the way. It also seems the story can only end with Broadman’s death. I enjoyed reading this tale, although the ending was a bit of a let down for my tastes – I’d have preferred a much harder hitting conclusion. I will, however, be seeking out another of Ketchum’s tales to try soon.

H.A. DeRosso was the author of short story Death Stacks the Deck. This has a wonderfully dark atmosphere, and was the second entry in this pulp that seemed to be heading for a downbeat ending. Ex-gambler Harvey Howell sees the only way to payoff his ranch is to play one last game and loses his home in a crooked game. Howell is then offered a chance to reclaim his ranch by playing another game to cheat the biggest rancher in the area out of his ranch. What doesn’t sit well is the fact that this rancher’s daughter is Howell’s wife. Cheating also goes against all of Howell’s beliefs. With all hope gone Howell plays the game and wins. After this the author includes a small twist that, like in the Ketchum novelette, turned things around in a way that gave the tale a happy ending that didn’t seem to fit the rest of the tone of the story to me. Having said that, the ending won’t stop me reading more of DeRosso’s work.

Rodeo Reckoning by Seth Ranger – which is a pseudonym used by Frank Richardson Pierce – came next. This short story is about a rodeo champion who wants to retire and run a horse ranch, but finds himself back competing to prove he’s still the greatest. That is about the entire plot and it worked out exactly as you’d expect. In fact, I got bored with it half-way through and decided to speed-read it to the end. If it had been longer than ten pages, I’d have probably not finished it.

The last short story was Hep Meets the New Year by Glenn H. Wichman. Wichman wrote 65 tales featuring Hep and this was the first time I’d read one. Hep decides to make some new year resolutions and gets four other people to do so too. The question is will any of them stick to these decisions? This is a comedy western, its light-hearted tone was fine, and it contained a couple of slap-stick situations at the end. Covering twelve pages was enough for me though as it didn’t have enough plot to hold my attention and I’m not sure I’ll be reading the other Hep Gallegher stories I have in my collection any time soon. 

There are also two factual features by Jim West, that I didn’t bother reading.

I’m hoping to try and read pulps more often as there are certainly some gems to be found within them. 

Saturday 25 March 2023


By Dusty Richards and Matthew P. Mayo
Pinnacle Books, March 2023

Mackworth “Mack” Harrigan’s family legacy burned to the ground in the spring of 1849. The Ohio mill that brought them prosperity was now cinder and ash, and his ruthless father had perished in the flames along with their fortune. If the Harrigan’s have a future, it lies out west in open country where they can build whatever lives they choose. Mack knows his wife, Ell, and their children Kane, Meghan, and Fitch are more than capable of overcoming the challenges of their journey.

The untamed frontier is full of seriously deadly battles. From a rough river voyage to wagon train travel across desert lands plagued by dust storms, the Harrigan’s encounter desperadoes and merciless killers who view them as little more than prey. As Mack and his family adapt to their merciless surroundings, they realize they must enforce their own laws and dispense their own justice…

Sadly, Dusty Richards died in January 2018. He wrote numerous westerns under his own name and pseudonyms. Like has been done with William W. Johnstone, Pinnacle Books have decided to keep his name alive by continuing to put out new work under his name which is written by other authors. Unlike on the Johnstone books, Pinnacle have added the real author’s name to the cover, something that will be greatly appreciated by many readers.

I have read a few westerns written by Matthew P. Mayo and enjoyed them all, so I was pleased to see his name on the front of this book. That was what made me buy it and I’m glad I did as I found it to be an excellent read.

The Harrigan family are easy to relate to. It was fascinating to see how they’d adapt to surviving in the west as they really are fish out of water. They need help and get both good and bad advice. Mack’s stubbornness doesn’t help either which is why they end up joining a small wagon train guided by a drunk. They also set out on their journey at the wrong time of the year and snow is also going to be an obstacle they’ll struggle to overcome.

Matthew P. Mayo writes some terrific scenes packed with tension, deadly situations that you can never be sure how they’ll turn out. Scenes such as Mack trying to rescue his father from the mill fire and a desperate race for survival from the hungry flames of a prairie fire. I don’t want to highlight anything else for fear of spoiling this gripping tale for those who are planning to read this book.

I wasn’t sure how the story would end and Matthew P. Mayo had a couple of surprises waiting in store for the closing scenes which left me both grinning and looking forward to reading the second book, A Need for Violence, which has been announced for an August 2023 release.

Sunday 19 March 2023


Number 178 of 436 plus 29 Giant Editions
By Tabor Evans
Cover art by Joe Lombardero
Jove Books, October 1993

Longarm has swept his share of hardcases off the face of the earth. But the quest for four missing archaeologists puts him in the way of cold-blooded murder in a pit at the very bottom of the world…

In a bottomless chamber somewhere below New Mexico territory lies a fortune in Spanish gold. Bushwhacked shortly after he jumps off the train, Longarm follows a trail of corpses to a glittering cache – only to find it’s a lot easier to fall into a treasure trap than to make his way out…

This was the first book in the Longarm series to be written by James Reasoner under the pseudonym of Tabor Evans and it was based on an outline given to James by series creator Lou Cameron. James turned this plot into a gripping read full of terrific characters, tense scenes, plenty of action, and some excellent twists and turns – especially as to where the gold is hidden. It was also great to see that James had included Longarm’s regular sayings, such as eating an apple one bite at a time, and his habit of using a matchstick to determine if someone had entered a room without permission. Sadly, these traits slowly disappeared as the series progressed and were only mentioned now and again.

Longarm is an adult western series so it contains explicit sex but these parts can be skipped if this kind of action isn’t to your taste. I suggest doing this as this Longarm story is a superb entry in the series that will keep you on the edge of your seat as Longarm struggles to piece together just what is going on and who is behind the disappearance of the archaeologists.

As this was James Reasoner’s first Longarm book it was also interesting to note that he’d either done his research on the series, or was a reader of the series before being commissioned to write for it, as he includes mention of previous Longarm assignments. For instance, there’s mention of when Longarm found himself involved with other archaeologists. He also portrays Longarm’s relationship with his boss, Billy Vail perfectly.

It's been a while since I read a Longarm book and this one really makes me want to read more, although they will have to be those written by other authors as I’ve now read all those penned by James Reasoner.

Thursday 9 March 2023


Book 2 of 10
By Steven G. Lawrence
Ace Books, 1961

For Tom Slattery, the Rio Grande country was bad news. His mother had died here and he had now come to bury his father and brother beside her in Boot Hill. After that he was going to clear out.

But on the Mexican side of the river, a revolution was in the air and someone was running guns across the Rio to the rebels. Unexpectedly Slattery became a witness to the smuggling. 

Slattery thought the law would side with him. The questions he answered too late were who was behind the law – and who was holding the carbine that was aimed at his back? 

Tom Slattery first appeared in this Ace double book, it is backed with the first book in the series, Slattery. It’s interesting to note that Ace called the author Steven G. Lawrence and did so on the next two Ace doubles that featured Slattery tales too. Subsequent reprints and new stories saw the authors name become Steven C. Lawrence. Bullet Welcome for Slattery had its title shortened when reprinted and became Bullet Welcome. Steven G/C Lawrence is a pseudonym used by Lawrence Agustus Murphy.

Discovering a wagon in trouble and the following disaster that befalls it is what exposes the rifles it is carrying. A quick exchange of gunfire sees the wagon driver dead and Slattery wounded. Slattery is helped by a woman and her young son; the latter having witnessed the shooting and having seen the crates of guns too. The gunrunners are soon set on killing both Slattery and the young boy.

The rest of the fast-moving plot revolves around a siege of a jailhouse where Slattery and the sheriff are holding one of the gunrunners prisoner. The gang want him back and Slattery dead, then they plan to kill the boy and they won’t stop at anything to achieve all their aims. There’s plenty of tough talking and gunplay that play out in some tense scenes. There’s also a twist as to who’s side one of the characters is on, but that wasn’t hard to see coming before the author revealed it.

Bullet Welcome for Slattery is a traditional western that played out pretty much as I expected it would. The only downside was the number of typos the book contained. Some of these made me go back and reread a paragraph to understand it properly as they mixed speech from different characters making it hard to work out who said what and to whom. Overlooking these spelling and layout mistakes, the book proved to be a quick and entertaining read and I look forward to reading the third one soon.