Thursday, 28 August 2014

Hood

By Jake Douglas
Hale, August 2014

When they find him he doesn’t even know his own name – or where he is, or how he got there. He sure doesn’t know who shot him in the head and left him in the badlands to die.

So he does the only thing a man like him can do: strap on his guns and get back in the saddle. He hunts and trains, working to improve his strength before time runs out and he is left with no land, and no future. But perhaps that is part of the plan all along, and perhaps someone is hoping his run of luck is coming to an end….

Opening the book with the discovery of a man who doesn’t recall anything about his past allows Jake Douglas to throw all kinds of questions at the reader ensuring they will become easily hooked by this tale of mystery and…..well you didn’t really think I’d reveal the plot here did you?

Hood makes for an engaging lead character, a tough man who soon finds himself dealing with all kinds of problems as well as trying to discover who shot him and why. He is helped by Doc Hammond who is experimenting with new types of medicine. Then there’s the sheriff who seems to want nothing more than to lock Hood up. And what part will Stevens and his sister play? They thought Hood was dead and have moved into his home. Just when answers seem to be on the verge of being revealed in rides a US Marshal to further complicate matters.

Jake Douglas keeps the story moving forward at a tremendous pace, throwing plenty of twists and turns into the tale. Violence erupts regularly and there’s a tremendous, frantic, final showdown. Douglas also includes some laugh out-loud moments of humour and took me completely by surprise by killing off someone I thought would survive.

Jake Douglas is a pseudonym used by Keith Hetherington, one of my favourite western authors, and this book proves once again why I enjoy his work so much.


For some reason I can't get Amazon UK links to work so please use the search box to the right if you'd like to buy a copy in the UK.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Eagle Talons

THE IRON HORSE CHRONICLES #1
By Robert Lee Murphy
Five Star, October 2014

Will Braddock doesn’t want some old judge dictating his future. The newly orphaned fourteen-year-old embarks upon a quest to determine his own destiny. He needs to convince his uncle to not sign the judge’s papers sentencing him to a life as a blacksmith’s apprentice. His uncle is a surveyor on the first transcontinental railroad and Will wants to be a part of the excitement of building the Union Pacific Railroad.

Will must prove to his uncle he possesses the gumption to make his own way in the dangerous west. Soon Will finds himself the target of a young Irish thug, who harbors a vendetta against his family and is determined to kill him. He also saves a mixed-blood Cheyenne youth from quicksand and receives two eagle talons in thanks and is convinced they bring luck to him.

When a feisty girl is kidnapped and the Army refuses to send troops to rescue the young lady, Will decides to disobey his uncle and risk his future in an effort to free her.

Set in 1867 this story seamlessly blends fiction with true historical events and features a number of real people.

Will Braddock is a very likeable youngster and a number of those he’ll become involved with fall into the same age group. So, in some ways, this is a coming of age tale, but Will has to grow up fast if he’s to achieve his goals.

Robert Lee Murphy mixes a number of sub-plots in with the real timeline of the building of the railroad and all provide twists and turns that held my attention well. His characters are engaging and I soon found hooked into their lives and found the book difficult to put down as I wanted to see what troubles would befall them next.

Murphy’s descriptions paint vivid pictures in the mind, place you right in the thick of the various exciting action scenes. Most of the story follows Braddock but Murphy occasionally switches to one or two of his other characters so the reader will begin to wonder how Braddock will deal with the troubles that are heading his way.

With such young leads this book should appeal to a wide age range of readers and should be enjoyed by all who love westerns.

This book is the first in a trilogy and I am already looking forward to the next.

Eagle Talons is to be published on October 22nd but can be pre-ordered now from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Dry Gulch Revenge

By Clay More
Hale, August 2014

Fate hands Hank Hawkins the opportunity of achieving his ambition of buying a ranch, and all he has to do to make it happen is to make it easy for a gang to rob the stage in Devil’s Bones Canyon.

Hank soon realizes, however, that the robbers never had an intention of leaving anyone alive and had planned a dry gulching.

He survives but regains consciousness back in Hastings Fork, and vows to track down the murderers who betrayed him and have his revenge. But, when he sets off, he finds he has a companion – Helen Curtis, the fiancĂ©e of the messenger whose death lies on his conscience.

Hank has many things to figure out, such as why there was one body missing and things are about to get even more complicated with the threat of death for both of them never far away.

This is a very fast moving story that begins with the savage slaughter of the stagecoach passengers and crew, and then the questions come thick and fast ensuring you won’t want to put the book down until you’ve reached the end.

Hank Hawkins’ relationship with Helen Curtis also asks questions, such as can he keep it a secret that he was involved in the death of her fiancĂ©e? What will happen if she finds out?

Clay More also includes a tense ‘how are they going to get out of that alive?’ problem that leads to some startling discoveries regarding certain people including an unforeseen double-cross.

Clay More is a pseudonym used by Keith Souter and in Dry Gulch Revenge he has written an easy to read, gripping, and extremely entertaining tale that has me looking forward to his next book and hunting for his back catalogue.

Dry Gulch Revenge at Amazon.com

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Hannie Caulder

By William Terry
NEL, September 1971

Fleeing the scene of a botched bank robbery, the Clemens brothers come across an isolated homestead. Attempting to steal fresh horses, the trigger-happy youngest brother murders Caulder, the landowner. His wife Hannie is unable to fend off the three Clemens alone. They rape her, steal her horses and burn her home to the ground. Determined to seek revenge Hannie teams up with Thomas Price a ruthless bounty hunter. She implores him to teach her how to kill. Reluctantly he agrees and together they set off in pursuit of the outlaws.

This is the book of the film rather than a book that became a film. The author, William Terry, based the book on the screenplay which in turn was adapted from an original story by Peter Cooper.

William Terry is a pseudonym used by Terry Harknett, who would become much better known the following year as George G. Gilman when the first in the best-selling Edge western series was released, a series that would run for seventeen years.

Terry tells me he wrote the book from the final draft of the script the director would be using to make the film. He knew who was to star in the film and was sent some black and white stills of key scenes which is why his descriptions of characters is spot on. Dialogue was taken from the script and it’s intriguing to discover this contains a lot of gallows humour which would become a trademark of Terry’s own books, something he freely admits he was influenced by along with many other TV and film westerns he watched and was ‘enthusiastically encouraged by the editorial team at New English Library!’ to continue using this in his own westerns.

The story is a straight-forward revenge tale and mixes the dark theme of Caulder’s rape and subsequent quest for vengeance with lighter comic moments mainly through the antics of the Clemens brothers. Terry’s writing perfectly captures the spirit of the film and its changing tones.

The book was published around the time the movie was released and is a must read for fans of both the film and Terry Harknett’s work as well as those who enjoy fast-moving westerns that mix violence and humour.

The film is a British production directed by Burt Kennedy and starred Raquel Welch as Hannie Caulder. It also stars Robert Culp, Ernest Borgnine, Strother Martin, Jack Elam, Christopher Lee, Diana Dors, and Stephen Boyd.


Monday, 11 August 2014

One-Eyed Death

CROW #7
By James W. Marvin
Piccadilly Publishing, July 2014

Originally published by Corgi, 1982

Time was when Crow found himself in Rosa Cruz, Arizona. Down on his luck – sick and stony broke. A time when the most menial of tasks would be welcome if it enabled him to eat. So when Ben Ford and the Spangel family ask Crow to guide them out West, he gladly agrees. He soon regrets his rashness, for the Reverend Spangel is a fiery, bible-thumping puritan, while his wife is half-witted. And almost all Crow’s charges are blind…

James W. Marvin is a pseudonym used by Laurence James and in Crow he surely managed to create the ultimate anti-hero. There’s not a lot about the man called Crow to like but that is what makes him so fascinating, what keeps me coming back for more.

James also seemed to enjoy creating characters that border on craziness, and this book contains a fistful of them, in name the Spangel family. Yet Crow just cannot bring himself to leave them to fend for themselves. Forms some kind of bond with the Spangel’s guide, Ben Ford, who is crippled.

The story isn’t complicated. The Spangel’s are searching for a place to settle down and during their travels are set upon by various groups of people who see them as easy pickings. Crow stops them the only way he knows how, unafraid of taking on massive odds alone. The action is described in all its graphic savagery.

There are plenty of killings and as expected not all of Crow’s group survive. One of their deaths being a surprise in how it happens. The trail will also bring out the best and worse in the Spangel family and some shocking revelations soon surface but Crow takes it all in his stride.

Overall this is a decent entry in the Crow series and at the price Piccadilly Publishing sells it for how can you not afford to give it a try? 

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Apache Spring

By J.D. Kincaid
Hale, July 2014

A band of young Apache braves rampages across Dawson County, New Mexico. When a stagecoach bound for El Paso is held up by outlaws all but one of the coach’s passengers are massacred. Young Lizzie Reardon, a schoolmistress about to start her first job in Burro Creek is the sole survivor, but she has seen the attacker’s faces and is now their target.

Deputy Sheriff Frank McCoy joins forces with the famous Kentuckian gunfighter, Jack Stone, to foil the plot. Bullets fly and not all will live to see another day.

The first of J.D. Kincaid’s Jack Stone books came out in 1989 I believe and the author has steadily been putting out further books, and this, the latest, brings the total to at least twenty.

You don’t need to have read any of the previous books to enjoy this one. Yes, there is mention to some events from those past stories but this is done to help fill in Stone’s background for new readers.

J.D. Kincaid switches regularly from different sets of characters and all sides will have a part to play in the exciting climax of this fast moving tale for which the linchpin is a dead Apache brave and to reveal anymore than that will spoil it for anyone intending to read the book.

Filled with well-drawn strong characters of both sexes, hard-hitting mildly graphic violence, and a simple yet effective plot, this story proved to be very entertaining and left me eager for Jack Stone’s next adventure.

J.D. Kincaid is a pseudonym used by James C. Dalgleish.

Apache Spring at Amazon.com

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Six-Gun Inferno

THE TRAILSMAN #393
By Jon Sharpe
Signet, July 2014

1861 – the sunbaked desert of southwestern Nevada, where a bullet to the brain is the least of a man’s worries.

In the Nevada desert town of Inferno, salt and water have become more valuable than gold. The citizens are just short of dying, and local strongman Crillian doesn’t care – he expects them to fork over big bucks for the essentials of life. But the Trailsman aims to make Crillian pay – with salt, water, and blood….

What seems like a fairly straight-forward plot becomes more and more complicated as increasing attempts are made on Fargo’s life, by Crillian’s men and a mysterious Frenchman, Jaffer, who claims there’s a third side involved.

As the danger mounts so Fargo anger rises and he vows to make those who attempt to kill him pay. This means the book really is an action-packed read with some kind of gunplay or deadly threat taking place every three or four pages.

With twists and turns that throw up many unforeseen surprises, not least who is behind the plots of this gripping story, and the reason behind the efforts to drive away, or kill off, the citizens of Inferno, this book proves to be a very entertaining read.

The man behind the pseudonym of Jon Sharpe this time around is David Robbins and the story contains all the elements that keep making me want to read more and more of his work; great characters, witty humour and plenty of sarcasm, hard-hitting action, and terrific pacing, to name but a few of them.

Six-Gun Inferno is a must read for fans of Skye Fargo. For those who have yet to discover the Trailsman series, or read anything by David Robbins, then this could just be the place to start.