The body of young Froggy Quale lies, covered by a blue tarp, in the pasture behind Castle Dunlaggan in the Scottish Highlands. Froggy was the on-site pollen and spore expert at the nearby archaeological dig and a graduate student who doesn't seem to have had an enemy in the world. Dotsy Lamb, ancient A young masterless samurai, a ronin, despised and distrusted by peasants and samurai alike, wanders the countryside of 13th-century Japan, a world where gods and demons and shapeshifting creatures are as real as the magic sword at his side.
His travails begin with a deadly duel versus as unscrupulou Weather and creaking joints permitting, Jim Hawkins could be found every weekend sitting in the rocker outside the Manix store, whittling and spitting. Jim said hardly anything. That's how Henry Lancaster felt. Sure, he'd hear his grandfather talk to his grandmother fairly often -- But Jim Though Fort Randall is an isolated outpost in , Miriam Longstreet finds life there far more complicated than she expected when she reluctantly returned from boarding school.
Harriet, her haughty mother, is a laudanum addict, her free-spirited sister runs wild, and her father seems too occupie June Jeremiah Dalton arrives in Lowdown, Texas, to claim his inheritance and discovers that his father's will has conditions attached. He has six months to learn the ranching business or lose everything -- and he must rely on the help of foreman Abigail Wilcox, the most ornery woman ever to Cast the First Stone is a murder mystery whose heroine, Trini Bates, is a dowser.
Dowsers have traditionally been known as "water witches" because of their ability to locate underground water for wells. However, a talented dowser can find much more: lost articles, buried treasure, missing peop One week to solve a murder. Londinium, 83 AD.
Richard Robinson told me a few years ago, "John's westerns are like the Holy Grail -- and some of the harder books to find. At a recent get-together [of a group of Creasey enthusiasts] we had just over a half of them in various editions. Several were published in magazine form in the US and are more common.
He was an assiduous publicist and in the late '50s issued a greetings-style card to his reader correspondents with the title "Creasey books are on top of the world. Story's "rather good westerns", as he described them, were mostly about a character called Pinetop Jones and were published in the '50s, usually in hardcover for the lending library trade, by Hamilton Stafford , originators of the Panther Books paperbacks. On the back cover of a Panther Books hardcover, Harding's author bio says, "He has always been interested in the genesis of the western novel, especially those in which character, humour and genuine suspense take precedence over the stereotyped horse opera plot.
Anyone who met Story, or has read his work or about him, knows something of the last! The entire website is an excellent tribute. By the end of the Swinging Sixties, few British crime writers were left dabbling in westerns, or admitting they once had. Then came the '70s and the influence of the Italian movie makers with their violently dramatic, spaghetti westerns. A younger generation of British writers took on board the lessons. Terry Harknett, a self-confessed "frustrated mystery writer" with "no particular penchant" for westerns, slipped into the scene almost by accident.
Luck took a hand, he said, when he was hired to write a "book of the movie" and it happened to be a western. He did a few more; it was realized nobody was writing books like the tough spaghetti movies; he assumed the pen-name George G. Gilman, and the famous Edge paperbacks came into being. Soon, every paperback publisher in London had an Edge-series clone. The stories were written almost exclusively by a coterie of writers who followed, perhaps unknowingly, in the tracks of an existing tradition of writers "who hadn't been further west than Paddington Station".
They won themselves a higher profile than the forgotten British western writers of earlier decades and became known as the Piccadilly Cowboys. Among them were John B. Harvey and Mike Linaker. John Harvey's books had the trademark of the PCs which was gritty realism, the more sordid it could be made the better: "Wes Hart woke sticky with sweat that lay on his body like cloying vomit, turning cold. Danner, still rides the range for Black Horse Westerns and the large-print Linford Western Library, while his bill-paying work is blockbuster adventure thrillers for Gold Eagle's series based on Mack Bolan lore.
Associated at an early stage with producing a fanzine for Harknett's GGG fans, another Mike -- Mike Stotter -- graduated to writing westerns of his own.
In , Ed Gorman and Martin H. This was a page anthology in which Gorman and Greenberg demonstrated the direct links between crime fiction and western fiction, proving the contention with a fine collection of stories from Elmore Leonard, John Jakes, Brian Garfield, Marcia Muller, James Reasoner and other top-selling crime and mystery authors. Today, Mike continues with occasional western projects, but he is also highly respected as the editor of the crime fiction website Shots www. But I will add that a lifetime's enjoyment of tightly plotted crime thrillers ensures I'd be less than satisfied with writing a Chap O'Keefe western which didn't contain mystery and suspense.
For stories about the series character Joshua Dillard, an ex-Pinkerton detective, the elements are routinely accommodated. Every time, the intention has been to spring plot surprises and solve puzzles in the closing pages of action-packed yarns. My other series character, Misfit Lil, similarly encounters situations more common to crime stories.
In one forthcoming title, Misfit Lil Hides Out , she is framed for murder. As always, resourceful Lil makes some ingenious plays and produces the necessary answers to a mystery with a flourish at the end. To wrap up, let's return to Frank Gruber with whom we started. The aim here -- in case detractors are itching to level the charge -- has not been to paint a picture of a cosy club of forgotten old fogies. Way back in January , Gruber made the following comments, in which you could substitute "western" for "mystery" all the way through: "The manager of a large book store gave me an advance copy of a mystery novel by a new author and asked me for my honest opinion of the story.
The detective was a colourful character. The writing had a vitality you seldom find, the dialogue was crisp and the story moved.
It lacked only two things, but those two things meant all the difference between an outstanding mystery and 'just another mystery novel. All right, nine out of ten mystery novels lack those two very same things. A dozen or so mysteries stand out every year from five hundred that are published. In practically every case these outstanding mysteries have both theme and invention.
I still hold that to be true, but now I add that without invention the theme falls flat. A murder is committed, perhaps two or three; questions are asked and answered and your detective makes certain deductions and eventually pins the guilt upon the culprit. The dressing he gives it is what makes his story different from other detective stories.
But too often this dressing is commonplace. The jaded detective story reader has read essentially the same thing a hundred times. Murder in itself is no longer startling or unusual. That is exactly why this story falls flat on its appendix. It has nothing different in it, nothing unusual. It lacks both theme and invention. I hope, as either readers or writers, we can count on theme and invention being among the ingredients in many of today's Black Horse Westerns. Big fan of westerns. There is great stuff that hasn't been touched by me I'm a big fan of westerns, and I haven't done my ultimate one.
There are many stories to tell. This guy's name was Bass Reeves and he was a true character. It has been in the pipeline for years and it's something I really want to do, but we have a problem getting the script together. That's the hardest part of any movie. Thought mixing horror with westerns was a new development? Think again! Another reviewer said. Avalon Books is a US publisher of wholesome adult fiction. On the back of a title issued in the mid s, the firm listed 38 of its westerns. They included no less than 15 by Terrell L.
Today the veteran author is a valued contributor to the BHW series who made his first entries in the line's debut year, He told Avalon he sometimes thought he was born with boots and spurs. His father was his inspiration. He provided Terrell with his own horse and cows to ride and rope. On small acre lots or fair-sized farms, he always had the fixings for cowboying on hand. Western blood was in his veins, and he loved to create a new story, new characters -- then let his imagination run wild. My principal desire is that somewhere there are western lovers who find my stories entertaining. Another case of myth versus reality.
The stereotype western hero is at least six feet, sometimes taller, and is sometimes said to have been a former cavalry officer. But we are told the US regular cavalry had a maximum height limit of 5 feet 10 inches. Some cavalry officers who were state-raised militia, or men who raised their own regiments during the Civil War, were big men, but regular cavalrymen were supposed to be 5 feet 10 or less.
The late John Wayne often portrayed a cavalry officer in movies, yet at 6 feet 5 inches he would have been much too big for the regular cavalry. The average man of the era would have stood about 5 feet 8 inches if Civil War records are taken to be a guide. And though some Indians were tall, most were smaller than white men. In a Western Writers of America press release, award-winning mystery writer Tony Hillerman said, "Western writing, to me is when you're flying from the east and clouds block the view.
You can't see a thing. Then, you're over west Texas. The clouds part and what do you see? Endless miles of sunshine and wide open spaces. Purchases of westerns in the United States increased 9 per cent in and 10 per cent in Publishers representative Larry Yoder said today's westerns weren't what your grandfather read or "some TV show with a predictable plot". Western literature is the motivation of people to succeed in lands greater than themselves. The Western is full of souls filled with concern, fear, joy and desire. In a phrase, it is the literature of America's soul.
Remember that next time someone dismisses the book you're reading or writing as "just another shoot-'em-up". Multi Spur Award winner Richard S. Wheeler , graciously given space at Ed Gorman's new, improved blog, raised doubts about the sales health of the western in response to the WWA release. After some debate, he said, "The death throes of a major American literary genre have occurred beneath the periscopes of the journalists of literature and the book world.
These people don't care about western fiction, and know their readers wouldn't care either, which is why the genre is all but gone. For western readers whose foremost requirement is a brisk and lively read, the blog debate furnished extra reasons for western readers to support the Hale and hopefully hearty series with purchases and library borrowings of the newest titles.
Never underestimate western fans. Eisenhower was an avid follower of westerns and his favourite movie was The Big Country. He read the book only because he knew me -- but he enjoyed the western atmosphere so much, he was going to read more by other authors. Then, out of the blue, a letter arrived saying they liked what I had sent over and would be interested in seeing the rest. His first BHW, Branded! Fellow author David Whitehead says, "One of the tricks Paul employed back in his Cleveland days was to write the last of ten chapters first.
Then, if he found that the story was taking longer than anticipated to tell, he could cut and compress it somewhere around the middle, thus avoiding the usual problem of having a rushed ending. Western readers and writers were reminded that not all genres are fortunate enough to have a BHW series. Leo Stableford commented to blogger Grumpy Old Bookman , who'd written about the difficulties facing the genre writer, "This is possibly the best post I have ever read in any blog ever on the topic.
My father is a mid-list SF writer and academic and only started to have anything like a career when the number of novels he'd written approached the late 40s or early 50s I really don't remember. Unfortunately, in today's world he didn't sell as was required, and now finds securing a publisher impossible in the mainstream and challenging elsewhere.
He'd never even have got a foot in the door had he been born 30 years after he was.
In her hand, as if by magic, there appeared a revolver. It was a big, hefty piece of armament, with a barrel about nine inches long. Joshua's expert eye placed it, possibly, as an old Walker Colt which in total length would measure more than fifteen inches.
Not exactly a lady's pistol, Joshua thought, and forged on relentlessly. Jess Harper sat alone on a pine bench outside his rough-hewn log cabin, waiting. Behind him, the late afternoon sun sank beyond the rim of the canyon, and the cabin gave him shade. The air was stifling hot, dry, and the yard inch-thick with dust. Short and broad, Harper had the solid build of a grizzly, his hair touched early with iron-grey. His rugged, almost homely, face showed lines of stubbornness.
Lynching at Noon City Sydney J. Bounds, aged I knew Syd in London in the s and had huge respect for him as one of the most versatile workers in the genre-fiction business -- SF, detective, western, horror, plus scripts for war libraries and even nursery comics. Quietly spoken, small in stature, non-assertive, he was the true professional. Editors and publishers continued to hold him in esteem.
I cannot remember ever having had personal contact with him direct, as in recent years all his work came to us via an agent. However, my recollection is entirely of an unassuming and highly professional author who could turn his hand to all sorts of fiction writing. Even as the office junior at Fleetway, I recognized Syd was much under-rated.
His Sexton Blake novels were published as by Peter Saxon, George Sydney and Desmond Reid -- all "house" pen-names -- but my memory is that the re-write work on them was barely necessary. When a Blake novel was later chosen to be serialized for the first time in a widely circulated weekly paper, Tit-Bits , it came as no surprise to me that it was one of Syd's.
I've heard, though, that the unassuming Syd wasn't told and found out only much later. Sydney James Bounds was born on November 4, in Brighton, a seaside resort fifty miles south of London. He worked as an electrical fitter before moving to Kingston-on-Thames, where he studied electrical engineering at a technical college.
At the same time, he began writing science fiction and fantasy. Steve Holland, at his aptly named blog, Bear Alley, records that Syd sold his first story in and was one of the more prolific authors of the "mushroom jungle" post-war era of cheap UK paperback publishing. Anyone who has tried to make a living from selling fiction will know the difficulties of changing characters and plots every 2, words, yet Syd managed to make a living doing just that for many years.
THE HORSE TAMER'S CHALLENGE -- A Romance of the Old West book. Read 5 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. THE HORSE. Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. Before Rebecca Bennett's father dies , he makes her swear to do two things: find his lost gold mine and find her sister.
Although best known for his science fiction, his talent for turning a situation on its head in one chilling line made him one of the champions of small press horror magazines of the s and s. In the s, he wrote more westerns under his own name for Robert Hale Ltd. These were of the same length as, and appeared in a similar format to, the later Black Horse Westerns. In the spring of , Syd began writing westerns for Hale again after literary agent Phil Harbottle sold many of his old paperback westerns to the firm for reissue in BHW hardcover.
The new books appeared under the remarkable octogenarian's own byline. One book was quickly picked for publishing in the Linford Western Library large-print series, making it more readily available everywhere, including the US. The feud involved two families, the Howards and the Flints, and had its origins in the Civil War. At stake was a small fortune built on a stolen Army pay chest. Also quickly on the line were various lives, including Savage's. Though not the first book in the Savage series, Syd's well-honed storytelling skills made it possible for the reader to piece together quickly, from allusions in the opening pages and later, that Savage was a young delinquent from the New York waterfront working as a Pinkerton agent in the South-west.
He was referred to frequently as "small". But his appearance, of course, deceived -- an attribute he shared with many of the Max Brand heroes of olden times. Savage was as ferocious as his name. Lights in the windows were like eyes watching him. The sky darkened and horses in the corral turned their heads to stare as he passed by.
No doubt there were men behind watching too. And Syd still had the happy knack of sketching a gallery of colourful characters, even minor ones, with a few well-chosen words. Thus of a town marshal: "Even if he did have a wave in his hair and his guns had pearl handles, they still had real bullets in them.
He was called the Pope because he wore a stiff collar and refused to open his shop on Sundays. Wheelchair-bound, he charged at the finale with a wild Rebel yell and a cavalry sword of good Southern steel extended before him. The latest last? Unmarried, Syd lived at the same address, 27 Borough Road, Kingston-on-Thames, for more than forty years. Like Steve Holland, I can still remember it from the '60s on editorial correspondence and the cover sheets to his neatly typed, always tidy manuscripts.
Last May, however, he moved to Telford, Shropshire. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, he was admitted to a hospice and died just a few weeks after his 86th birthday. What can I say about Syd? He was a real gentleman and one of the first authors I ever contacted, way back in when I was still at school. I had to do a project for one of our classes, a kind of General Studies class, where we could choose any subject at all. I chose British SF magazines, because I'd then recently become interested in them.
Later, when I had the crazy notion of putting together a small mag, Syd contributed a story.
Syd attended all the book fairs and turned out to be as friendly and generous in person as he was in correspondence. We talked about his long career as a writer, usually about his SF stories, or the stories that had appeared in annuals, or maybe the comic strips he'd penned -- whatever I happened to be researching at the time.
Because Syd was a professional, he could turn his hand to any genre and succeed. I don't mean to imply that he was a hack who would simply go where the money was being offered, although all professionals are forced to do that to a degree. He didn't have the hack mentality. He wouldn't just rehash some old idea dressed up as something new. He was also a very good writer of twist-in-the-tail short stories. Unlike the true "hack writer", Syd wouldn't short-change his readers. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that Syd enjoyed meeting and talking to people he knew would be reading his stories.
From his early days in science fiction fandom in the s to his final years in what is now the 21st century, Syd was regularly face-to-face with his audience. Perhaps that's what made him want to put in that little bit extra and take just a little more care with his writing than some of his contemporaries. Writing is what he did and he was very pleased to be back in the saddle with his Black Horse Westerns.
At the age of 79 he took on what was initially a five-book deal. Towards the end, he would say he was thinking about retiring. By the end he had written over a dozen new novels in half as many years, and not one of them shows any lessening of his ability to tell a damn good story. Ten new titles are issued every month as BHWs -- tough, traditional or, sometimes, off-trail. The brand caters for all tastes. Holmes C. John Hunter. Rex Hardinge.
And interest in criminal psychology could be put to use in a western, too, adding depth to plot and characterization: "Slim, he thought, was not to be trusted with any lethal weapons. Sydney J. Jack Trevor Story. Terry Harknett. Mike Stotter. Roped in. Role sized up. Hillerman: clouds part. Wheeler: clouds gather. Ike's endorsement.