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.