Saturday, 13 January 2018

Book Review: 52Weeks ~ 52 Western Novels: Old Favorites and New Discoveries by Scott Harris and Paul Bishop

The Old West is uniquely American. It is a legend brought to life in sagas of blazing six-gun justice in wide-open towns and across vast ranges. 52 Weeks • 52 Western Novels is a fun guide to some of the best of these Western tales. Step into the Old West. Ride dusty trails, slap leather with outlaws, and get ready to battle Indians and the elements—all from the comfort of your favorite reading spot.

There are several things I really like about this book. First of all, it has been conceived by two authors who have a deep affection for and understanding of the genre. Secondly, it doesn't conform to the usual 'list of' books which seem to believe that unless a book is a classic it shouldn't be included.

Looking through the index I saw many titles that I was familiar with - Shane, Fargo, True Grit, Catlow, and also, many authors - Louis L'Amour, Ed Gorman, John Benteen (to name a few of each only). I particularly liked the sub headings under each title - Book Facts, Author Facts, Beyond The Facts, Fun Facts, and Movie Facts.

For example

The Big Country - Fun Facts include Gregory Peck wore lifts in the film so he would look taller than Charlton Heston and more in line with Chuck Connors.

Broken Trail - Book Facts include Alan Geoffrion invested more than five years doing research for the book, focusing on and then combining two separate, but historically accurate, stories. The first was about the forced prostitution of young Chinese girls who were taken from the far West and brought into the interior of the U.S., in this case to Wyoming. The second was about the sale of western horses to the British Army.


Add all the artwork that's included for each title and you have a book that's a pleasure to read or flick through.

If you're interested in discovering something new to read, or rediscovering something old, then this should be a goto book for you. If you have a curious mind and like to know more about a story then his book is for you. If you like a book that you can leave on the (virtual) shelf and delve into for an unexpected surprise now and again, then it's for you.

Book Review: Dead Man Walking by Derek Rutherford

The authorities warned Jim Jackson that if ever set foot in Texas again then he wouldn't get out alive. But Jim is back. Searching for information about old friends incarcerated in the cruel Texas penal system, with intentions to bust them out of wherever they are. When Jim foils a train robbery, he's suddenly a hero and a hunted man. The death toll rises as Jim attempts to outrun both the authorities and the friends of the train robbers he killed. Meanwhile, there's still a prison break to engineer. And there's also the matter of the beautiful and enigmatic Rosalie Robertson?

Being a fan of Derek Rutherford's writing and having read Dead Man's Eyes (review here), I was very keen to read this one which is the second instalment in, what I believe, is a trilogy. However, if you haven't read the first book, don't worry. This, I feel, would work equally well as a standalone. No detail is missed whilst getting to know the characters, new and old, and there are no spoilers.


The story is told from several points of view to enable all the elements of what is a fairly complex storyline to come together for a satisfying finale. Although I could guess (a writer's mind, probably) where it was going and how it would end, the way the story was delivered gave me full enjoyment and satisfaction. The action was evenly paced and although traumatic in places, was superbly written without the need for graphic, bloody descriptions.

All in all, an intelligent story, well written and highly recommended. Once again, I am left wishing the next book was already available.




Sunday, 31 December 2017

Westerns I read in 2017

Here's my annual summary of the westerns I got through during the year - about 40, which is 7 fewer than last year. However, I have written 3 books this year, which is an amazing feat for me.


You'll see there's a definite pattern. I've read a lot of series books, which I hadn't done previously. As regular readers will know, Sundance has been far and away my favourite find although my interest waned at book 7. I'm still very much enjoying Bodie - Neil Hunter, O'Brien - Ben Bridges, and Fargo - John Benteen.

Some I've reviewed and some I haven't but most I've enjoyed.

January
Undercover Gun (A Clay Nash western Book 1) – Brett Waring
Rimrock Renegade – Ned Oaks
High Hell (A Bodie the Stalker Western Book 3) – Neil Hunter
Arizona Wild-Cat (A Larry and Stretch Western Book 2) – Marshall Grover

February

The Enforcer (A Bannerman the Enforcer Western Book 1) – Kirk Hamilton
A Gun is Waiting (A Clay Nash western Book 2) – Brett Waring
Long Ride To Serenity – Harry Jay Thorn (started)
Valley Of Thunder – Sam Clancy
The Vigilance Committee – Bill Sheehy (started)

March
A Man Called Crow – Chris Adam Smith
The Guns of Skeleton Ridge (Laramie Davies Book 5) – BS Dunn
Riding The Line – Will DuRey

April
Lightning Strike – Brent Towns

May
To The Death (A Company ‘C’ western book 1) – Brent Towns

June
A Gun For Shelby (a Drifter Bk 1) – Jake Henry
The Red Hills (A Crow Western 1) – James W Marvin
Even Marshals Hang – Sam Clancy
LeRoy US Marshal – Neil Hunter
Overkill (A Sundance western Bk1) – John Benteen

July
Hart The Regulator: Cherokee Outlet – John B Harvey
Dead Man’s Canyon (A Sundance western Bk2) – John Benteen
Nomads From Texas (Larry & Stretch Western Book 3) – Marshall Grover
Hangman’s Noose (An O’Brien Western Book 4) – Ben Bridges
Long Trail To Yuma (A Clay Nash Western Book 3) – Brett Waring

August
The Killing Trail (A Bodie the Stalker Western Book 4) – Neil Hunter
Hang ‘Em All (A Judge and Dury Western Book 1) – Ben Bridges
Heller (Luke Heller Book 1) – Ben Bridges
Silence Rides Alone – Charles Milstead (started)
Dakota Territory (A Sundance western bk3) – John Benteen

Trapp – MR Law

September
Riding For Justice (A Judge and Dury Western Book 2) – Ben Bridges
The Box Maker – SD Parker
Death In The Lava (A Sundance western Book 4) – John Benteen
Vermijo – Nelson Hunter
Fargo (Fargo no.1) – John Benteen
Reckoning At Rimrock (A Clay Nash Western Book 4) – Brett Waring

October
The Deadly Dollars (An O’Brien Western Book 5) – Ben Bridges
Panama Gold (Fargo no.2) – John Benteen
Shadow Flats – Brent Towns

November

Blaze! Redrock Rampage (Blaze! Western Series Book 15) – Ben Boulden (started)
Squaw Man (An O’Brien Western Book 6) – Ben Bridges
Taps At Little Big Horn (A Sundance Western Book 5) - John Benteen
The Bronco Trail (A Sundance Western Book 6) - John Benteen

December
The Wild Stallions (A Sundance Western Book 7) - John Benteen (Dec)


Thursday, 30 November 2017

Books I read in October/November

Not a lot read in October and November so I've put them together. Far and away my favourite reads have been by John Benteen - Sundance/Fargo. Both full of action and historical detail. It's my intention now to read Sundance exclusively until I run out of books in the series or get fed up with him.

October
Panama Gold (Fargo no.2) – John Benteen
Shadow Flats – Brent Towns : An interesting mix of standard western and supernatural brought together in Brent's easy to read and well paced style.
The Reluctant Terrorist – Gary M Dobbs : A contemporary tale set in Wales with a very current plot. Ordinary people and situations painted larger than life and nicely complicated by a series of misadventures that are believable and unbelievable at the same time and lead to a complete and satisfying finale.

November
Squaw Man (An O’Brien Western Book 6) – Ben Bridges. 
Taps At Little Big Horn (A Sundance Western Book 5) - John Benteen
The Bronco Trail (A Sundance Western Book 6) - John Benteen

See you next month.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Re. Brit-West: Riding The Range With Jo Walpole

I've made a lot of new friends on the Internet, among them Paul Bishop. Ex LAPD detective, multi-published author and script writer, Paul keeps a very interesting blog. Very kindly he asked me if I'd answer a few questions for him and you can see the result of that exchange at his website here.


While you're there, I strongly recommend taking a look at his other articles which are, in his own words, an eclectic mix of pulps, film noir, sixties spy shows, and other topics - plus the required book news, articles, and promotion. Make sure you have tea and biscuits to hand though because you might be there awhile.

Monday, 6 November 2017

AVAILABLE NOW Maggie O'Bannen 1: Days of Evil by Joe Slade

At long last Maggie is unleashed on the world. I just hope you can handle her.



Available from all the usual e-outlets.


Excerpt

Maggie knocked back the hammer with the heel of her hand and fired again, lower this time as his body sunk on weakened legs. The bullet missed, instead tearing splinters from the porch. Panic washed over her but she had practiced rapid firing time and again and the action came without any thought. Her third bullet hit him in the face, shattering his nose and taking out the back of his head in a spray of splintered bone and pulped brain.
Behind him, Sonny Bomer felt the heat of the same bullet as it skimmed his leg. Older and more experienced, a veteran of the war, staring down the barrel of a gun hardly seemed to faze him. Instinctively, he reached for his belt gun, turning his body as he fired.
Maggie’s shot missed. Sonny’s didn’t. The .38 caliber slug hit her in the shoulder. For a couple of seconds, she didn’t realize. She tried to draw back the hammer for another shot but the gun slipped from her grasp as a strange tingling numbed her hand. It hit her then. Excruciating pain. Burning through her like the red-hot tip of a branding iron. She started to sway, sure she was dying as hot blood poured down her back and her strength drained away.
Before she could fall, Sonny grabbed her by the hair and lifted her chin with the muzzle of his gun so that she could see his cold and impassive face.
‘You killed a couple of good men tonight, girl. To tell the truth, I wouldn’t have thought you had it in you but …’ He stroked her cheek with the cold steel. ‘Hey, I’ve never understood women.’
She tried to stay focused on what he was saying but all she could think about was the blood. Hot and flowing. And the inevitability. For seven years she had lived with the promise of death never more than a day away. I’ll kill you tomorrow, Frank used to say. As the years had gone by, Frank’s bedtime warning had turned in to a habit, but she had never stopped believing it. For some reason, she was glad it wasn’t him that would finally pull the trigger.
The click, click, click of the hammer being drawn back sounded loud near her ear. A countdown to death.
 ‘Close your eyes,’ Sonny ordered. ‘It’ll be easier that way.’
She ignored him and swallowed hard, desperate to say one last thing. ‘Killing … should never b-be easy.’
For a second, he contemplated her words then his brow furrowed. He seemed angry as he stepped back a few paces and leveled the gun towards her.
‘I meant dying,’ he said, roughly.
Weakened by loss of blood and without his hand to support her, she started to sway. She wondered how much time had passed since her encounter with Walt McLean. It had been mid morning. Now she was struggling to make out Sonny’s features through semi-darkness. Yet there was Frank, standing right behind him.
She chuckled mirthlessly. ‘Better close your eyes, Sonny.’