Saturday, 17 March 2018

Review: Hot Lead: Issue one - The Piccadilly Cowboys

The fanzine  of vintage western paperbacks. 60 pages full colour. Debut issue traces The Piccadilly Cowboys phenomenon, with reviews, articles and interviews not the controversial western paperbacks perhaps best typified by the George G Gilman Edge series. 

Although I am familiar with the story of the Piccadilly Cowboys having read some Edge, Crow, Hart, Jubal Cane, and Adam Steele over the years, I was keen to get my hands on this fanzine. Yes, you can find everything you want to know on any subject on the Internet but being familiar with at least two of the contributors behind this publication (Paul Bishop and Steve Myall), I was interested to read their combined perspectives tidily bundled in one place.

My initial reactions to its release were '£6.50 for a magazine?' and 'Where's the e-format version?'. However, I was very impressed with it when it dropped on my mat. First and foremost, I liked its nice manageable size, glossy colourful cover and the overall quality feel it has.

Once you open it up, you are bombarded with Piccadilly Cowboy (PC) cover art on pretty much every page, which in itself, is very interesting. However, the pictures are there not to distract you from a lack of content, but to enhance your enjoyment of the articles that accompany them.

Laid out neatly in six sections, the fanzine offers an introduction to the Piccadilly Cowboys (where they came from, what they did, their impact on the genre) and the series of books that forms their catalogue. Steve Myall of the renowned Western Fiction Review blog gives knowledgeable insights into some of his favourite PC titles. Justin Marriott interviews Terry Harknett and also provides a couple of reviews. Paul Bishop gives a nod to another fanzine, this time from the 80s, Western Magazine.

As if all this was not enough, the premier issue is dedicated to the memory of two prolific western writers Bill Crider and Dusty Richards, both of whom left us this year.

Justin Marriott in his closing paragraph asks that readers 'spread the word' and I am more than happy to do that. I closed the cover feeling that my hour or so spent curled up with the dog on my lap and the magazine in my hand, had not been wasted.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Books I read in January and February

I've been concentrating on writing my Maggie O'Bannen series for the last couple of months so I haven't done much reading this year. However, for what it's worth, here's my list.


Hangtown (A Bodie the Stalker Western Book 5) – Neil Hunter

Dead Man Walking – Derek Rutherford (my review is here)

North Of The Border (An O’Brien western book 7) – Ben Bridges


The Streets of Vermijo – Neil Hunter (I very much liked the way the female co-lead was written but couldn't help feeling she had so much more potential and her part was too small - maybe next time? I love the cover art.)

Blade 1: The Indian Incident – Matt Chisholm

The Wilde Boys – Ben Bridges

Happy reading!

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

First Review for Maggie O'Bannen 2 - Wanted: Dead

The second instalment of the Maggie O'Bannen series will be released very soon but the first review is in and I'm more than happy with it. You can read it  now at Western Fiction Review.

This time around Joe Slade includes a perfect blend of murder mystery into the story that never loses its western atmosphere

The final confrontation makes for an exciting and satisfying conclusion to this very fast paced tale

Monday, 5 February 2018

Coming soon - Maggie O'Bannen 2 Wanted: Dead by Joe Slade

‘Frank O’Bannen wanted five thousand dollars to let you go. I offered him ten thousand to kill you.’

Kidnapped at sixteen, Maggie O’Bannen returns home after seven years to be reunited with her father. No longer the idealistic girl she once was, her return is meant to help put her demons to rest. Instead, it sets in motion a series of events that will put her on a collision course with trouble, and this time, Maggie has no qualms about speeding towards it.

Discovering who was behind her abduction is just the beginning. Murder with no apparent motive and no suspect soon brings her under the scrutiny of the local sheriff. As the body count rises, Maggie fights for her life against a foe who will stop at nothing to win.

As events escalate, Maggie will need to rely on her friends more than ever before if she is to survive. But at what cost?

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.

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


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)

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

Lightning Strike – Brent Towns

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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