The GOLD TRAIN

The Gold Train ISBN: 97817337277, Dos Hermanos Publishing, a Mason and Thorn Western, copyright and written by Larry Richardson and Tom Richardson.

The authors again have embarked upon providing their readers with another in the series following the adventures of their seemingly popular protagonists Mason and Thorn. Thorn is the retired U. S. Marshal for whom Mason worked and he and his wife Amanda are ranchers attempting to save their cattle ranch after another of the devastatingly big freezes that periodically devastate the area ranches. Mason is Thorn’s replacement as U. S. Marshal for the territory and appears to be, along with his wife Grace, in his twenties. The destruction of the huge number of cattle actually proves most helpful for the new Marshal because Thorn is willing to serve as Deputy in the Marshall’s new assignment of seeing the new shipment of gold be safely transferred from Denver to the local area bank. The shipment is close to one million dollars and if this is not enough of a problem. Grace and Amanda want to enter the local auto race as participants for the $10,000 prize money being offered. The manner in which these two plots are developed and intertwined,, along with the skullduggery involved and the new interesting characters introduced form the body of this tale depicting the beginning of a new era of activity in the developing western part of the developing America.

Discussion: The manner in which the authors have presented this fundamentally double plotted story is quite fascinating. Its attendant sub-plots and introduction of characters, as well as handling their activity, is quite appealing. Their stories and reasons largely are credible and create empathy, the pace of the action is good, the interplay of the plots acceptable and the new material presented with respect to this era in the ‘new’ west quite enjoyable. Generally speaking, this is a most enjoyable read for anyone with even a modicum of interest in the early development of the western part of the United States.

5* especially for anyone interested in early Americana.

Song of Eagles

Song of Eagles ISBN: 9780786037568 Pinnacle Books Published, copyright and written by William W. Johnstone.

Once again the author has provided a story about the ‘Old West’ which is labeled fiction largely because so much of the history contains so many questions with respect to activity, characters involved and the frequent requirement of including fictional character(s) to piece together a smooth sequence and/or explain ‘missing parts’ or logical reasons for the action that had occurred. In this case the author has told a tale of the Lincoln County War which was a complicated and bloody affair begun and continued by a basic greed that involved and extended to include, many unscrupulous men and eventually even to split friendships to a deadly degree. It included numerous men well known for various reasons including the infamous William Bonney (Billy the Kid) and his friendship with Pat Garret, the eventually appointed Sheriff of Lincoln County. Additionally, attempting to explain much of this period’s history with respect to the fate of the actual characters such as William Bonney, “Buch Cassidy” and others has been most difficult because of the amount of credible material that provides a different demise than the one reported and accepted at the time.

Discussion/Conclusion: Little material actually can be added to that already set forth in the above description. Many stories of this period are replete with inexplicable facts and/or credible explanations of differences between ‘facts’ accepted at the time and ‘facts’ that emerge in later years. The author has ‘pieced together’ a most enjoyable story of another of these ‘tales of the Old West’.

5* for readers who may not even be Western devotees.

The Legend of Jake Johnson

The Legend of Jake Jackson by Dusty Saddle Publishing Copyright and written by William H. Joiner, Jr.  This is Book 3 in the Western Adventure series by this author.

Jake was a legend in the Old West, not only because of the hope he provided for the oppressed with his unmatched ability with a gun, but also because of unusual history. He was a white child raised by the Comanche Indians to become the Warrior White Wolf revered by the Indian nation for his fierceness in battle. Circumstances led to his reverting to the white man’s way of life becoming a rancher, marrying and becoming a loving husband and father. When informed of some injustice performed by the numerous outlaws inhabiting the west, he would depart to “rectify” the situation, often doing so by reverting to a Comanche Warrior’s manner of dispensing justice.

Discussion: The author has presented his tale in a series of short vignettes depicting how each individual outlaw developed and progressed to the final action that brought Jake to act and how he took care of each individual situation.

5* Stories should be well-received by devotees of western tales.

A Good Man

A Good Man assumed published, copyright and written by S, M. Revolinski. First printing 2020, Sterling Productions.

This volume is the first in a series of ‘standalone’ short stories of the Old West in one volume entitled “Tails of Wyoming”. This initial tory is quite brief and is the tale of a lone traveler travelling alone through the mountainous country hearing a single pistol shot followed shortly by a second. Figuring someone is in trouble, he moves in the proper direction and discovers a man who has fallen partially down the side of a a large elevated area into a position where he is impossible to reach without special equipment. The man is bleeding to death from injuries sustained in the fall, but is alive and requests this stranger stay with him and then take his horse (tethered above on the top) and word of his demise to his wife in a not too distant town.  He does, is well received by the townspeople and, from notations about succeeding books develops a relationship with the man’s former wife. A portion of a second tale also is incorporated. Brief notes are offered about other stories that follow in the collection. This introductory story is quite interesting as are the notes supplied later with respect to the following stories in the collection.

Discussion: the author’s web page is included and describes a writer who has become quite knowledgeable about his subject and seemingly has produced enjoyable stories of this period of time in these early developmental stages.

5* For readers who enjoy tales of this developing section of America.

Gunfighter, The Quest for Peace

Gunfighter, The quest for Peace Dusty Saddle Publishing, an e-book copyright and written by John D. Fie, Jr.

This volume consists of 3 individual stories by the same author and assumed to be part of the Western Adventure Series. The lead story is that of the book’s title and follows this adventure of the protagonist of The Morgan Deerfield Western Saga. It portrays the attempt of Morgan to quit the life of a gunfighter and become a rancher with a life more in accord with that of a rancher of the era.

The second tale is “The Town Tamer Harmon Bidwell. The United States Marshal Western Series Book 4. It chronicles the problems of Cattlemen’s Crossing, a central point for buying and shipping cattle. It follows the activities of the protagonist, a judge and other lawmen as they must find, apprehend and or kill the man behind crocked cattle sales and his murderous henchmen.

The 3rd consists of introductory material from another of Fie’s books. The title is “Cattle Queen of The Pecos”. The story begins as two wandering cowhands suddenly become aware of Indian activity and aid a young girl to escape from Indian raiders who have killed her parents and brothers. Apparently, they were on the way to Texas where her father was to help his aging father to handle his large ranch. The tale stops as they are about to continue on the journey to get the little girl to her family.

Discussion: The author provides slightly different approaches to the old and well-worn western plots. They are well-written, nicely paced and have interesting characters who perform well.

4* Well-written, interestingly characterized, slightly ‘different’ westerns

Guns along the Weary River

Guns along the Weary River, an e-book listed as written by John D. Fie, Jr. in The Ben Culver Western Adventure Series Book 1.

The entire format presented here is confusing for a reader. This specific title provides a somewhat difficult to follow plot following the young son of a cattle baron who is killed by a bogus sheriff who actually is a criminal wanted in Waco Texas. A range war evolves that contains all of the confusion of these conflicts but the activities are poorly described and the ending is as much of a let-down as is the entire tale. This has utilized 74% of the book’s content, so this somewhat puzzling format then shunts the reader to “Will’s Revenge, The United States Bounty Hunter Western Adventures” with the remaining 26% spinning a tale with a most improbable beginning. SPOILER ALERT! A man is being hanged by a sizeable group of Banditos and saved by the arrival of a feminine bounty hunter who throws a hidden knife slicing the hangman’s rope and the two overcome the banditos with knives and brute force. Stretches in credibility are expected constantly, but eventually, like rubber bands, sometimes the stretch is just beyond limit.

2* Regrettably and perhaps 1* for the second tale.

Returning the Guns

Returning the Guns, assumed published, copyright and written by Troy Lawson.

Kirk DeWolf is on the outskirts of a small western town as a stagecoach is being held-up. He is unaffected until he hears a child scream which changes his attitude. He spurs his horse down the hill to find 5 bandits, all of whom he rapidly dispatches with head shots. The boy and an older man are the only passengers and thank him saying he should visit them when and if he gets to their town. The man, although previously a passenger, ascends to the driver’s seat (not an easy task for anyone unaccustomed to handling a stage coach team of horses or mules) and wheels toward home. Kirk does decide to visit the town because he has been on the trail for some time without stopping anywhere. He enters the local bar/hotel but finds it very unfriendly, refusing room, food or even to sell him a drink. It seems the town has been taken over by Remus, a particularly vicious renegade and his hired guns, and the townspeople are afraid to offer anything to strangers. As he leaves he encounters Adam, the young boy he saved, who invites him home for dinner. Here he meets the beautiful Emily, who’s older brother had been the boy’s father. He also had been the town’s sheriff who was killed by Remus. The story continues as Kirk attempts to save the town and its residents as he leads by example and attempts to rally support from the townspeople.

Discussion: Upon introduction, Kirk seems to be an avenging gun fighter drifting from town to town to rectify injustices. This opening impression quickly vanishes, however, from the fact that, although he guns down 5 bandits with remarkably well-placed head shots, it is pointed out that he still has 1 round left in his revolver. Any user of a single action pistol, especially of that era, knows that only rarely does one load such a weapon with a sixth round because of the danger in carrying the weapon with a round under the hammer. Furthermore, he re-holsters the weapon without immediately replacing the spent cartridges – a definite no-no for anyone not knowing when the weapon might again be needed and there is no indication that he has a second weapon. So he definitely is a drifter, albeit remarkably proficient with a gun, on the prod and no doubt carrying a memory or memories that tend to keep him moving.

Summary: Accepting the fact of who and what he is, western aficionados should enjoy this story.

4* Interesting tale of a gun-savvy drifter in the old west.

Blood on the Bighorns

Carson McCloud.

Brett Rawlins is a very young man who discovers his father, supposedly a suicide, a short time after his mother’s death. He is left with attempting to make a go of the Wyoming ranch that was his father’s dream. Picnicking with the girl he thought would be his bride eventually, he is shot and tumbles into a ravine where he is left for dead by gunmen who work for the expanding cattle baron who wants his ranch. He somehow survives, is nursed back to health by Lisa, part of a Mormon family living some distance away. He recovers and leaves to save Allie from the gunmen only to discover that she was part of the plan to do away with him. From this point the story evolves into his attempts to regain his ranch by any means he can devise and is helped constantly by Crow Indian Chief Red Elk and a Cheyenne/Crow Princess, Mourning Song. She is one of a group of Indian maidens whom he saves after they had been kidnapped by men working for the same employer as the gunmen who thought they had killed Brett. After numerous poorly thought-out attempts to nullify the plans of the viscous cattle baron, he finally discovers that his only recourse is to personally face him and his henchmen in a showdown.

Discussion: The author has set forth an interesting enough plot that regrettably from this reader’s perspective, has been peopled with characters with whom it is difficult to empathize. Little is offered with respect to Allie and her brief appearances and similarly Lisa. Mourning Song presents a rather enigmatic picture but some of her activity does not quite exemplify that of a Cheyenne/Crow woman, especially of her purported status. Red Elk, although briefly described, is of considerable interest but the rest of the characters are rather shadow-like. The Mormons are portrayed to exhibit all of the better qualities espoused by members of that religion, but their total surprise by, and quiet acceptance of the cattle baron’s brutality are difficult to accept with the amount of violence already absorbed and also delivered by members of their sect during that particularly chaotic period in history. With respect to the protagonist, it is granted that he is young. However, this reader’s reaction to his inability to think clearly or to devise plans other than those requiring him most frequently to be saved by circumstances and/or by others, is disappointingly irritating.

Summary: A chaotic historical era and place woven into an interesting fictional tale that, regrettably from this reviewer’s perspective, could have been enhanced by a little more thought with respect to the matters mentioned.

3* Reviewer’s thoughts on interesting tale of a chaotic time in history.

Apache Jack

Apache Jack: A Legend is Born. An e-book published by Brent Reilly via KDP, copyright and written by Brent Reilly.

This is a story of the period of strife in the American Southwest in the mid-nineteenth century among the Mexicans, the newly formed United States, the Texans (often referred to as Texicans) and the Indian nations of the area. It opens with excerpts from activities of the Miller family, led by their talented, charismatic, entrepreneurial patriarch. He convinces the Indian Tribal chiefs to aid him in fighting their hated Mexican enemies in a manner most beneficial to him, his family and their amassing of personal wealth and power throughout the Baja Peninsula, and what is now New Mexico, Arizona and parts of California. It begins before, continues during and after the Mexican War, the Gadsden Purchase and associated developments. It introduces Jack as a precocious child equally at home with Apaches and Caucasians and with both the good and bad talents of both. The child is introduced relatively late in the book where it sporadically refers to his activities through the age of seven. Thus, this volume largely seems to be an introduction to the next volume. To quote the author’s final lines: ”The war between Mexico and Apaches ended, but the war between and Apaches and Americans began. THE END OF PART I. NOW GO BUY THE SEQUEL!”

Discussion: As titled, the book’s purpose is to introduce a character, little of whom is presented in this initial production. It presents much repetitive description of construction efforts by the Millers as they work their way westward increasing the size of their power and wealth. Similarly, repetitive depictions of violent activity performed in a bloody time in a historically brutal era peopled by viscous individuals. If this offers appeal, this book is for you.

3* Should appeal to a particular type of reader.