Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

I have returned from visiting granddaughters and daughter and son-in-law. Our son living in Northern California and his new bride who is carrying our first grandson also went to Portland Oregon for the season. We are now all back at our respective homes. I wish everyone who reads what I write, the best of wishes for your new year. We will hang tough here as I continue to enjoy my writing and the push to get a western story in print for all to judge.

Book Review: Ghosts of Timber Wolf

This western by V.S. Meszaros was not one that I could get into. I guess I am easily confused because I lost all direction and desire to finish reading the book. The first part of the western gained my interest and kept me going but when it got into the area of spirits and ghosts it lost my interest and desire to finish the read. As any of my readers would attest I do try and keep wading through the books even if I don’t like them.

I cannot recommend this book for several reasons. I couldn’t keep pushing through till the end and the story line was just too beyond belief to keep me interested. I also don’t like werewolf and vampire stories. So I’ve stated my piece and I’m sticking to it.

Book Review The Time Has Not Yet Come

A new author for me, Michael Dearmin, generates this western tale with expert vision. His use of the right words and the visible action generates a plot into a believable story revolving around equally important multiple characters. Matthew Stoker a Harvard graduate is the reluctant gunfighter who’s history proceeds him like a cloud. Being a true thinking man he recognizes the holes in the story, which would have him as being part of the land, grab that is going on. Knowing of his none involvement in the murder in the countryside of Maria Johnson’s father locks him into the position of protector and solver of the mystery.

Murder and the presentation of a fake ranch deed presents the question of who and what is going on here? The Sheriff appears to be too lazy or in adept to be a ringleader and the initial suspect the neighboring ranch owner John Culbertson shows that he is not really involved. Other characters are inserted into the story that help improve the image of doing the right thing in more than just one thing.

The action of this western story is believable and it appears to fit in all possible aspects of western action. I was surprised with how well the story played out and carried off the desired affect that the author wanted. I recommend this story to the fans of well-written westerns that are easy to read and have a direction that any reader can follow. Surprise I found this book in my local library.

Book Review: The Sinister Pig

This story of the southwest written by Tony Hillerman is a tale with Sergeant Jim Chee as the main character, he enlists the now retired but still legendary Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn. Having reread this story I needed to make new readers aware of this semi modern western that exhibits the exceptional quality of story telling. It harnesses the reader to the idea and mystery of what’s happened and pulls him into and through the story.

The ingredients of this mystery are a nameless body, found on the edge of his legal authority and close to federal land. The location of the nameless corpse is close to where the FBI has jurisdiction and they want to take over the case. At first blush they are calling it a hunting accident. Hunting is involved, but man was the prey. The key figure for solution of this twisted mystery turns out to be Bernadette Manuelito a former Navaho policewoman who is now a Customs Border Patrol Agent. It amazes me how Tony Hillerman was able to produce these intricate mysteries with in the confines of the Navaho Reservation. If he had been writing today all manner of illegal activity would be happening from terrorist entering the country to Mexican cartel pushing drugs across the deserts of the southwest.

I recommend this book and all the authors’ works as stories to read during any particular winters day and night. I am positive that you will enjoy them as much as I have. Put you thinking cap on and dive into these Southwestern mysteries.

Book Review: El Paso

This western story is centered in the Texas border town of El Paso with the main character Dallas Stoudenmire who was a newly married man and looking for a permanent type of job as a town tamer. His background goes back to the Civil War where he learned this trade and developed the techniques he would use in his career. The town of El Paso in the start of the story is being run by Ed Banning and his brother Sam who have done everything to tie up the complete vice portion of the seedy side of town. The Mexican occupants of El Paso and the larger accumulation of Mexicans who lived and worked in the area on the southern side of the border were bullied and intimidated daily. Ed Banning and his crew was also involved in the rustling of Mexican cattle and bringing them back across the Rio Grande River and changing the brands. Murder and mayhem was spread out over the countryside. Corruption and the evil spread by men who were not held in check by the law was every where. Dallas was hired to eliminate the Banning’s and their corrupt machine.

The story has many ups and downs that drive the story into many areas where death and gunfights erupt at the blink of an eye. Many forms of murder are shown and the back shooting elements of the machine driven by  the Banning’s is a constant evolution of dirty underhanded workings. The taming of El Paso turns out to be no simple task and solving the problems that were generated by this corruption created by Ed Banning will eventually end. The way it winds up is worth the push through to the end of the book.

I recommend this western to all those readers who like a good tough western character who gets his man. I felt that the story was not as easy a read as most westerns. Enjoy this shootem-up.

Book Review: The Wild Ones

This western story with the main character being a woman, Lillian Fontaine, is unusual and really draws on the confusion of the westerns I know. I have been exposed to many unusual western stories, but my understanding of westerns was definitely challenged by this tale. I know that women were an important and major turning point on the spinning wheels that rolled across the western frontier. Women were a force that stuck the complexity of the west together as many broken and wrong thinking men poured into the western frontier. The Civil War stamped out families causing men to run from the horrors generated by this historic American conflict.

I felt that Matt Braun took a light and frivolous approach to how women assimilated into the real west. This story never attacked the problem or showed us away that women helped to make the west a believable place where real lives were changed and ideas for the future were formed and pushed forward for all to see. The portrait of an attractive and smart women thrown into the fray under the awning of being an entertainer and above the fracas of the complexities of real life.

Being a longtime resident of the State of Kansas and actually traveling to Abilene Kansas for a trip the day after my wedding and graduating from Kansas State University. I would classify my self as a person that knows about the sky of western Kansas. The clouds only move from west to east. In Chapter Four in the first paragraph goes as follows, “A brilliant sun stood fixed as its zenith. The weather was moderate for late September with cottony clouds drifting westward against an azure sky.” This description needed to have been more completely investigated for factual content.

I had a real problem with this story from the beginning to the ending and I recommend the readers to wipe this story off of your list of westerns to read.

Book Review: Vengeance of the Mountain Man

This western by William W. Johnstone is another story about Smoke Jenson and the outlaws who try and extract vengeance from the things he has done to them. The outlaws are to stupid to realize that they survived with their life the first time they encountered Smoke. No second chances were going to be given. If you as a reader are into retribution poured over the top of a very weak story you will enjoy all the blood and gore generated on the pages of this western.

I felt that there was no story outside of the crazy things the gunfighter Sundance did to try and justify that he was bigger than he really was. You would think that when he had lost his ear from a Smoke Jensen bullet he would realize that he probably had been lucky to escape with his life. Sundance wasn’t the man he pictured himself as. An interesting sideline was how the town that was generated years ago by Smoke Jensen, stood tall and cut down the odds by killing and sling lead after the fleeing outlaw gang, The outlaws barely escaped with their lives as they left the town at a gallop. The only opportunity that would be given to Sundance’s outlaw gang would be death and usually in some gruesome manner. How stupid could you be to chase a mountain man into the mountains?

This western is no literary giant just an escape from a humdrum life with more than enough blood and violence to satisfy the most morbid of readers. This is an escape book and a short read, but nothing to get excited about. I have read several of the books written in this series but I guess I am just a glutton for punishment. You might want to read it to verify my assessment of it.

Book Review: The Loner: The Bounty Killers

This story is centered about a man, Conrad Browning, who has wealth and had been very successful in life until his wife was murdered. Changing his name to Kid Morgan, after his father Frank Morgan the infamous gunfighter known as The Drifter. He chased the murders down and killed them as he decided to keep his past buried.

The tale covers the Kids adventures to escape bounty hunters that are searching for him everywhere based on the reward poster putting a ten thousand dollar bounty on his head dead or alive. Everything on the reward poster was true except that he hadn’t killed the guards when he escaped from the New Mexico Territorial prison. The Kid was a prisoner of a female bounty hunter, McCall, with a vicious dog, Max. Initially she was taking him to Santa Fe, New Mexico to the governor to get her money then they were going their as partners.

The ups and downs of this shoot’em up western has the reader going from bad to worst in things that would probably not happen. I felt that the reader was trying to be hood winked about what the West was really like. Still I recommend this western to all of the readers of westerns who would like to judge if they can see through any of the smoke created by the author, J.A. Johnstone.

Book Review: Anything for Billy

This example of historical fiction by Larry McMurtry was in my humble estimate a difficult western story, for me to read. McMurtry the author of many excellent western stories approached this historical figure being seen through the eyes of a ten-cent bulk book author. I definitely appreciated the short chapters, but the story did not pull me through the book making it hard for me to read. It could be that I know too much about the character and the west. I probably had already formed my own view of this historical character.

One of the main supporting characters, Ben Sippy, was a writer of dime novels of the time. The second companion on the trail was Joe Lovelady a known outlaw and was everything Billy the Kid wanted to be. Sippy had ran away from his wife and daughters to give his life a shot of adrenalin and escape from the humdrum necessities of his calm peaceful life of an eastern gentleman. This saga is presented as a journal written by Ben Sippy as he records the steady yet methodical trip from one insignificant small western town to another.

The multitude of characters make the novel by McMurtry was an insertion into the unknown mind of this famous western bad boy. Billy Bones alias Billy the Kid was in this novel shown as a not to smart teenager, who was trying every avenue to strengthen his own image and vision of himself as an outlaw. This would cover his companions and shower his revised image onto the men that actually were there surrounding him.

I recommend this book to western readers as a good example of western journals and a way to convey to the readers how things could have happened to a historical character as he tried to mature in the violent west.

Book Review: Riders of the Purple Sage

I thought it would be appropriate to read a western book set in the area that we were going to travel, Southern Utah. I was a little leery about reading Zane Grey because I had read several of his books before I started writing westerns of my own. When I started reading Riders of the Purple Sage, I was amazed that I really was enjoying his style of writing and the story was right where I expected it to be.

The main character is Jane Withersteen who is an unmarried Mormon woman whose father had died before she was married and her strong will and personality has made her a thorn in the side of Bishop Dyer and Elder Tull. Her protector originally was Bern Venters, but he gets side tracked after he shoots the rustlers masked rider and finds out the rider is a young girl. Lassiter turns into the strong will of iron in this story. His direction, protection and gun hand ability puts him in the lead for all future suitors of Jane Withersteen. He is in search for Milly Erne’s grave and Jane takes him to the place and he is deeply moved.

Bishop Dyer and Elder Tull both have ulterior motives and they proceed to attempt to break Jane financially and mentally. This task is harder than they originally envisioned. The story is an exceptional description of the times and gives the reader a clear picture of what the country looked like and the people it contained. I recommend this story to all western readers and I think I would like to be more in tune with Zane Grey’s vision and voice of the western frontier and I will read more of his books on my Kindle.