Thursday, 31 December 2009

Westerns read in 2009

For my final post of 2009 I thought I’d post a list of the 100 westerns I’ve read during the year. Most of them have been reviewed here, and the rest will be soon.

I’d also like to wish all visitors to this blog a Happy New Year.


01. The Trailsman #326: Silver Mountain Slaughter by Jon Sharpe
02. The Badge #4: Powder River by Bill Reno
03. The Warhunter #1: Killers’ Council by Scott Siegel
04. Cherokee Justice by William Kennedy
05. The Pirooters by Mark Mellon
06. The Trailsman #327: Idaho Gold Fever by John Sharpe


07. The Stone Garden: The Epic Life of Billy the Kid by Bill Brooks
08. Longhorns and Outlaws by Linda Aksomitis
09. Abilene #4: The Night Riders by Justin Ladd
10. The Trailsman #328: Texas Triggers by Jon Sharpe
11. Lanigan and the Silent Mourner by Ronald Martin Wade
12. The Shadow Riders by Owen G. Irons
13. Crow #1: The Red Hills by James W. Marvin
14. Wilderness #59: Only the Strong by David Thompson

MARCH READS – 8 books
15. The Texians #1: The Texians by Zach Wyatt
16. The Trailsman #329: Bayou Trackdown by Jon Sharpe
17. The Gunsmith (Giant Edition #13) The Marshal from Paris by J.R. Roberts
18. Slocum #107: Sixguns at Silverado by Jake Logan
19. Die this Day by Dempsey Clay
20. Guns of Virtue by Peter Wilson
21. Joe Blade by Matt Chisholm
22. The Judge #6: Lawless Land by Hank Edwards

APRIL READS – 6 books
23. Ruff Justice #2: Night of the Apache by Warren T. Longtree
24. The Derby Man #4: The Pony Express War by Gary McCarthy
25. Longarm #26: Longarm and the Dragon Hunters by Tabor Evans
26. On the Great Plains by Logan Winters
27. Rawhide Ransom by Tyler Hatch
28. The Trailsman #331: Northwoods Nightmare by Jon Sharpe

MAY READS – 8 books

29. The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
30. .45-Caliber Deathtrap by Peter Brandvold
31. On the Wrong Track by Steve Hockensmith
32. Street and Smith’s Western Adventure – Vol. 2 #5 British Edition
33. Long Shadows by Terry James
34. Wilderness #60: The Outcast by David Thompson
35. The $300 Man by Ross Morton
36. Time to Kill by Lee Lejeune

JUNE READS – 6 books

37. Bad Day in Babylon by Clayton Nash
38. The Trailsman #332: Beartooth Incident by Jon Sharpe
39. The Tarnished Star by Jack Martin
40. The .45 Goodbye by Dempsey Clay
41. The Outpost by Owen G. Irons
42. Lanigan and the She-Wolf by Ronald Martin Wade

JULY READS – 8 books
43. Riders from Long Pines by Ralph Cotton
44. Claw #1: Day of Fury by Matthew Kirk
45. Portrait of an Outlaw by J.D. Kincaid
46. Riders of the Barren Plains by I.J. Parnham
47. The Trailsman #333: Black Hills Badman by Jon Sharpe
48. Gunman’s Walk by Clint Ryker
49. Rio Bonito by Abe Dancer
50. The Short Creek Rustlers by J.D. Ryder

AUGUST READS – 9 books
51. Partners by D.M. McGowan
52. The Third Rider by Barry Cord
53. The Trailsman #334: Colorado Clash by Jon Sharpe
54. Gannon’s Law by Peter Wilson
55. Gun Fury by Walt Keene
56. Wilderness #61: The Scalp Hunters by David Thompson
57. Gunhawk by John Long
58. Dragonfire Trail by Hank J. Kirby
59. Arizona Pay-Off by Duke Patterson


60. The Trailsman #335: Riverboat Rampage by Jon Sharpe
61. Nickajack by Robert J. Conley
62. Cord by Owen Rountree
63. Pony Soldiers #1: Slaughter at Buffalo Creek by Chet Cunningham
64. Saving Tom Black by Jere D. James
65. The Gunsmith #330: The Dead Town by J.R. Roberts
66. Misfit Lil Cheats the Hangrope by Chap O’Keefe
67. Death Comes Riding by Terrell L. Bowers
68. Shoot-Out at San Lorenzo by Henry Remington
69. Gunsmoke by T.T. Flynn
70. Misfit Lil Robs the Bank by Chap O’Keefe
71. Dead Man’s Range by Paul Durst
72. The Plains of Laramie by Lauran Paine
73. Beyond the Crimson Skies by Owen G. Irons

OCTOBER READS – 10 books

74. Barjack and the Unwelcome Ghost by Robert J. Conley
75. Longarm and the Lone Star Trackdown (Giant Edition #27) by Tabor Evans
76. The Guns of Sapinero by Frank Leslie
77. Hangtown by Logan Winters
78. Harlan by Frank Roderus
79. Iron Eyes Makes War by Rory Black
80. Death Ground by Ed Gorman
81. The Staked Plains by Billy Moore
82. The Battle for Skillern Tract by Matt Laidlaw
83. The Trailsman #336: Utah Outlaws by Jon Sharpe

84. Sweep of Fury by Dempsey Clay
85. The Loner by J.A. Johnstone
86. The Trailsman #337: Silver Showdown by Jon Sharpe
87. Trail of the Burned Man by Thomas McNulty
88. Always the Guns by Matt James
89. Wilderness #62: The Tears of God by David Thompson
90. Rustler’s Range by Billy Hall
91. Revenge by Fire by Bill Williams


92. Fatal Justice – A Ralph Compton novel – by David Robbins
93. The Branded Man by J.D. Ryder
94. The Trailsman #338: Texas Trackdown by Jon Sharpe
95. Dalton’s Mission by Ed Law
96. Gun Law by Lee Walker
97. Medicine Hat by David Walks-As-Bear
98. Ryder of the Hills by Robert J. Horton
99. Six For Laramie by Rick Dalmas

Monday, 28 December 2009

Ryder of the Hills

by Robert J. Horton
Leisure, December 2009

Jess Sneed leads a notorious gang of thieves and isn’t the sort to shy away from putting a bullet in a man when it suits his purpose. But he honestly never meant to kill Albert Ryder. The miner’s death was strictly an accident, and the only way Sneed can think of to atone is by taking in Ryder’s orphaned son and going completely legit. But ugly secrets have a way of rearing up when least expected. Eventually the boy he’s raised will become a man and learn the truth….

This story first appeared as a seven part serial in Western Story Magazine in May 1927 and is, probably, the oldest western I’ve ever read. I must admit that it didn’t come across as dated as I expected; of course there were a few terms used that an author writing today wouldn’t use, and this was the same with a few words – such as the word queer being used in preference of strange. Also saloons were referred to as resorts and the bartender being the resort keeper.

Right from the beginning it became very obvious that this book was character driven, and even though Ted Ryder is the hero the first third is told from everyone but his point of view; he seemingly a secondary character. Once the outlaw, Killer Sneed, who takes Ryder under his wing, is killed, Ryder becomes more of the lead character. To me, though, the main character of the story is the beautifully drawn Lucy Ware.

The story takes place over a number of years and involves robbery, ranch life, ranch take-over attempts through treachery, forbidden love, outlaws returning to claim their part of Sneed’s hidden money, blizzards that nearly wipe out the whole area, and a copper strike. So there’s plenty to hold the readers attention. A lot of the gun action takes place out of scene – the reader being told about it by various characters – although the book does have a prolonged, and exciting, showdown near the end.

Initially I had doubts as to whether I’d enjoy this book, mainly due to its age, but once I got into the story I was hooked and just had to keep reading to find out what happened to all the main characters, and although some of it turned out as expected there were some surprises too. Overall this was a very enjoyable read and I’ll certainly be looking out for more of Robert J. Horton’s work.

Ryder of the Hills was published earlier this month so you shouldn’t have any difficulty finding a copy.

Below are five of the seven issues of Western Story Magazine in which Ryder of the Hills was first published; these ran from 05/07/27 to 06/18/27.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Gun Law

As by Lee Walker
A Black Horse Western from Hale, December 2009

As a boy of fourteen, Jake Chalmers saw his parents callously murdered by two drunken cowboys in the street. Now a young man, he is determined to protect himself, even if he has to use his gun to do so.

On the run after killing in self-defence, Jake arrives in Sweetwater, a boomtown growing rich on cattle drives. His plans to keep a low profile soon go awry as he finds himself in the middle of a feud between the ruthless business man, Jordan Carter, and an elderly sheriff, Luke Gardner.

Finally, Luke is murdered by one of Carter’s henchmen and Jake must choose between the law of the land and the law of the gun…

As far as I know this is Lee Walker’s debut western for Hale. His writing style is very readable and the plot moves along at a swift pace with plenty of bursts of action along the way. Lee Walker’s characters are well created and will have you caring about what happens to them, will have you hoping that Chalmers doesn’t ride away and leave the girl, Elaine, behind as he seems scared to commit himself to anyone or anything.

The plot of the drifting gunman who finds himself standing by a lawman, newspaperman and a beautiful girl, against the power hungry bad guy who owns most of the town and has a bunch of gunfighters to back his play, is an often used storyline but Lee Walker makes it seem fresh, his story grabs the readers attention and makes the book very difficult to put down until the last page has been read.

If Lee Walker (real name Ed Ferguson) continues to write to this standard then I for one will be eagerly awaiting each of his books.

Gun Law has an official release of December 31st but should be available from Internet booksellers now, and if you fancy getting hold of a copy I suggest you get your order in as soon as possible as BHW tend to sell out fast.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Dalton's Mission

as by Ed Law
A Black Horse Western from Hale, December 2009

When Dalton and Loren Steele happen across an ambushed gold shipment, they are too late to help. Everyone dies, attackers and defenders alike. Being honest men they try to return the gold to Perry Haynes of the Durando Mining Company, its rightful owner, but unknown to them Perry has been overthrown.

With corruption and the law of the gun now ruling Durando they are slammed into jail on the dubious charge of having stolen the very gold they had rescued!

The two men befriend Perry but to help him reclaim his mine, they’ll have to strap on their six-shooters and tame the hell-hole that is Durando.

It would seem that all of Ed Law’s books are about the man known only as Dalton, and this is the sixth book in the series. Having said Dalton’s Mission is part of a series the book reads as a stand-alone. As far as I could tell there was very little, if any, reference made to previous stories.

Dalton isn’t a lawman, a gunslinger, or any other kind of heroic figure, he’s just an ordinary man who happens to come across the gold shipment and this leads to him getting involved in seeking justice for those wronged. In fact he’d rather keep out of trouble if possible. Having said that there are a number of violent fights that lead up to a savage final gun battle. A fair amount of the book takes place underground, including a tense escape bid by Dalton, Steele and Haynes after being thrown into a deep hole that seems to have no possible way out.

Typical to many Black Horse Westerns there’s the attractive female – in this case Haynes daughter who is being held to ransom – who you’d expect would provide some romantic interest for Dalton, but as he’s married this doesn’t happen, which for me makes for a welcome change.

Dalton’s Mission has an official release date of December 31st but should be available from Internet bookstores now.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Fatal Justice

A Ralph Compton novel by David Robbins
Signet, December 2009

Years ago, Marshal Asher Thrall shot killer Ben Sharkey in the leg to save a fellow lawman. Since then, every crooked step has reminded Sharkey of the man who put a bullet in him. And he’s set to repay the favour in spades.

When the gunsmoke clears, Asher is all too eager to ride after his nemesis. But time is against him. Because while Sharkey shot him three times, the doctor removed only two slugs. The third is still in the marshal’s chest – and with every breath, every heartbeat, it is moving closer to ending his life.

Asher knows he’s a walking dead man. Before he dies, he’s going to make sure that Sharkey is one step ahead of him.

Even though this book can only have one outcome for Thrall, David Robbins writes a gripping story that sees Thrall having to make a choice; how he wants to die. Thrall chooses to hunt down and rid the world of Sharkey; chooses to use his last days of life by stopping Sharkey killing more innocent people. But to do this Thrall needs help to ease his growing chest pains, and to do this he turns to morphine.

David Robbins presents the reader with a dark tale of drug addiction and masterfully fills his story with very vivid images of a man losing his senses to the grip of morphine. Forgetting his reason for wanting to live, eager to escape everything in the bliss morphine brings, Thrall becomes a bounty hunter to get the money needed to feed his addiction.

And the need for morphine is not the only addiction David Robbins writes about; he also includes a beautifully drawn character in Broken Nose, an Indian with an alcohol addiction. Having Broken Nose team up with Thrall allows for some wonderful dialogue, some very funny, but mainly tainted with an underlying sadness.

Fatal Justice really is a superbly told story, a tale of dying with dignity that spirals out of control through drugs. A tale that makes you think about the meaning of life, a story that’s a race against time; will Thrall succeed in finding and killing Sharkey before he succumbs to his own death, and will that be caused by the bullet in his chest, wasting away through the use of morphine, or some other way?

The very nature of the storyline should tell you that this is a dark, tough, brutal book that will touch the emotions. All this told in a gritty, fast moving style that is filled with action, memorable characters, and cliff-hanger situations, that all combine to make this book very difficult to put down.

If you want to read a western with a storyline you’d not normally expect in this genre then I cannot recommend Fatal Justice highly enough.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Loner

as by J.A. Johnstone
Pinnacle, May 2009

When Conrad Browning’s wife disappears in the untamed frontier, Conrad finds himself assuming the identity of his famous gunslinging father, Frank Morgan, to find her. But his hopes of rescuing Rebel are swiftly shattered – and now he’s burning for vengeance, the old-fashioned way. So he fakes his own death and starts calling himself The Loner, becoming the deadliest gunfighter this side of his own father – ready to settle the score in blood and bullets…

The Loner is another book that takes a character from one of William W. Johnstone’s long running series (in this case The Last Gunfighter) and launches them in their own series – to date there are three Loner books. This is the first book that has dropped William Johnstone’s name and just carries the J.A. Johnstone name as author.

Like many series before it, this first book uses the classic theme of revenge to set Browning off on the killing trail. The story is extremely well written, its plot fast moving and full of action. In fact I found it a very difficult book to put down.

The above blurb is taken from the book and I did have to wonder where the part came from that says “calling himself The Loner” as this never happens, Browning calls himself Kid Morgan, often referred to as just The Kid. Maybe the Loner tag will be developed in further books?

Overall this is a very good read that should satisfy most western readers, and those who are fans of Johnstone’s series will have fun checking out which of his other characters get a name-check. The story leaves a thread dangling which will ensure readers will be eager to read the next in the series.

To me, the only real problem this book and those that follow it have is getting hold of them. The books are only sold in Walmart, which is fine for those who live in America, (the books don’t appear on Walmart’s website) and can get to one of their stores. The other alternative is to buy them through the Johnstone website but do check their postage charges, as having the books sent to the UK completely priced them out of what I was willing to pay. In the end a friend in America picked up all three books and mailed them to me in a single package, the cost of which (by air) was less than the Johnstone site wants to charge for one book! Due to this I do have to wonder how successful this series will be?

Sunday, 6 December 2009

The Branded Man

as by J.D. Ryder
A Black Horse Western from Hale, December 2009

Cordy Lowell lost more than his youth and his horse when they branded him, but the red-hot branding iron did more than just scar his chest, it forged a strong thirst for revenge.

Taking sides in a range war, Cordy found himself fighting on the side of a wheelchair-bound ranch owner against Bosewell, a greedy man who wasn’t satisfied with owning most of the basin, getting rich from his cattle and horse breeding operation. It wasn’t long before the fight became personal and Cordy had a chance to find retribution. If he lived long enough…

This is J.D. Ryder’s third Black Horse Western and once more he presents the reader with a very fast moving story – lengthy time periods passing within a couple of paragraphs help create the impression of days passing quickly. The plot is fairly straightforward and it does turn out pretty much as you’d expect, but it is a great read getting there.

Cordy Lowell comes up against some well crafted bad guys, such as Bosewell, Price and No-nose; the latter being an Indian who likes nothing better than pressing a red-hot branding iron onto human flesh.

J.D. Ryder combines a typical range war story with a tale of revenge, which is also a quest to retrieve a stolen horse. Ryder’s writing style makes for an effortless read and the book can easily be read within a couple of hours.

Checking the copyright page reveals that J.D. Ryder is a pseudonym used by William Sheehy.

The Branded Man has an official release date of December 31st and is available for pre-order from the usual Internet sources.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Western Fiction News

A few entries ago I posted an interview with Keith Hetherington and since then Keith has been in touch and said in reference to the question I asked about what were his favourite western films:

“ My daughter read the Interview at the week-end and said, "Dad! Whatever happened to 'SHANE'? I thought that was your favourite Western..."

Close enough! I first saw SHANE at the Leiceester Square cinema in London in 1953 and I wouldn't like to have to count the times I've watched it since then. Chris (my daughter) was right - it IS - not my favourite Western film, but ONE of my favourite Western films. Dunno why I didn't include it in the interview along with WESTERN UNION and SEVEN MEN FROM NOW.

As the film company's PR said: at the time, "The role Alan Ladd was born to play." Couldn't see anyone else doing it as well - even if he wasn't much like the book's character. But we're talking Film here and that's a whole different category. Summing-up, it was just one of those rare films where everything came together - fabulous scenery, colour realistic, excellent cast from bit players up, and realistic gunfire, plus of course, Ladd giving it his all. Shane is the type of Western character I like, though the lone stranger fighting all kinds of odds has become a cliché like riding off into the sunset. But I'm a sucker for such scenes....”

Fans of Jory Sherman’s books will be pleased to know that a new book is now on sale, Sidewinder. This is the first in a new series and Jory is currently writing the second book Death Rattle.

In June 2010 the next book in Jory’s Savage series is published, Savage Hellfire.

Issue 12 of the Paperback Fanatic has now gone on sale and fans of westerns maybe interested to know it contains an article about three of the series written by the group of authors now known as the Piccadilly Cowboys. The three series in question being Breed, Crow and Herne the Hunter. Among the many other excellent articles you’ll find an interview with Tony Masero, concentrating more on his horror and fantasy work than westerns, which he discussed in the interview I did with him here.