Friday, March 9, 2012


In recent weeks, a welcome number of action-packed Westerns have come galloping onto the scene. Anyone who still says the Western is dead clearly hasn't been paying attention (the upcoming Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp-Tonto movie quite aside). Like it's done for other areas of genre fiction, the eBook revolution has played a big part in this. Rootin'-tootin' traditional Westerns on electronic media … go figure.
And there are plenty of good, solid print Westerns still in the mix, too.
Here are some recent titles I am anxious to read (or already have):

This latest entry in the popular Rancho Deluxe series is penned by Bill Crider and is another fine yarn. Bill may be best known for his contemporary mysteries featuring Sheriff Dan Rhodes (and also, my personal favorite, his Truman Smith PI books) but he is certainly no stranger to the Western genre. OUTRAGE AT BLANCO and RYAN RIDES BACK are among noteworthy previous titles. You can't go wrong with Crider, no matter the genre.
Here's the latest novel-length adventure in the Cash Laramie/Gideon Miles series, as created by Edward Grainger (who everybody knows is David Cranmer). This one is written by Nik Morton and is a flat-out, action-packed, sexy, lighting-paced read! As the production blurb says: "Gun Smoke Rises and Blood Spills" ... add that to the sensual cover and the 99-cent price tag and how can you NOT give this book a try?
‎Here's a Western series with a bit of a twist (but not so much of one that it slips out of the category of still being damn good "Western" fare). Lucas Hallam is a former cowboy and Pinkerton agent who has outlived his time in the wild country and is now working as a stuntman and part-time PI in early Hollywood. In short, he's one of the most original Western (or PI) characters you have ever read. THE HALLAM COLLECTION indicated here is a collection of (long) short stories, one of which was the initial introduction of the character. Author L.J. Washburn (who everybody knows is the wife of James Reasoner) also wrote these novel-length Hallam tales: WILD NIGHT, DEAD STICK, and DOG HEAVIES --- all of which are terrific and have been re-issued in eBook format. In addition, some of Livia's earlier Westerns --- EPITAPH, BANDERA PASS, GHOST RIVER --- are also available again as eBook re-issues. I highly recommend all of these.
This is the second in a new Western series by the prolific and always excellent James Reasoner. You don't have to read the first book ahead of this one, but it might help (but, heck, why not just go ahead and treat yourself to BOTH - with Reasoner at the helm, you know you're not going to be disappointed). James (husband of Livia/L.J. Washburn as per above) has written so many good books in so many genres I can't begin to mention all of them here. (Although, without going into details, I will make three exceptions - TEXAS WIND, DIAMONDBACK, and DUST DEVILS; all are available on Kindle and if you haven't read all or any of these, you owe it to yourself to correct that ASAP.) Getting back to strictly Westerns, James is also currently writing in Rancho Diablo series and re-releasing some stand-alones, such as THE HUNTED. As covered here in a past blog, James and Livia also co-wrote the WIND RIVER series now in eBook re-issue and they appear to be doing very well. All of these are worth checking out --- like I said above, you owe it to yourself and with Reasoner at the helm you'll never be disappointed.
Nobody currently (or maybe ever) writing in the genre, does gritty, action-packed Westerns better than Frank Leslie (who also writes under his own name, Peter Brandvold). Brandvold/Leslie has turned out a lot of titles in a number of different series (this one featuring Colter Farrow the most recent) and they're all terrific. Ben Stillman, Lou Prophet, Yakima Henry, Cuno Massey, Gideon Hawk, and now Colter Farrow --- these are Peter's series characters. Here are some recent titles linked, respectively, to each: ONCE A RENEGADE, THE DEVIL'S LAUGHTER, DEAD RIVER KILLER, .45 CALIBER DESPERADO, GALLOWS EXPRESS, and THE LAST RIDE OF JED STRANGE. Not to mention Peter's "wierd western" - DUST OF THE DAMNED. Plus (trust me, I have it on good authority) plenty more to come. I am honored to know Peter personally and I've never met anybody more passionate about writing. And that passion definitely shows through in his work.
I highly recommend you climb up into the saddle with any or all of these and I don't think you'll be sorry.
Persevere --- WD


Bill Crider said...

Thanks for the plug!

James Reasoner said...

Thanks, Wayne. Some people still say the Western is dead. Not hardly, I say.


Wayne, Thorvald especially wants to give you a big wet kiss though he hastens to stress that it's strictly platonic!

I'm gonna go up and give him and his old hoe-y momma another bone. Just bought every one of these books you mentioned.

Apache Pete

Richard Prosch said...

Great selections, Wayne. The Rancho Diablo fellas are getting way ahead of me --thanks for the reminder.

David Cranmer said...

Thanks, Wayne!

Brett Daniels said...

James, I agree that Western is not even close to being dead. There's so much history there, I don't see it ever dying. Look how many great movies are out or that are coming how with Western themes.

I've got another great Western read if anyone is interested. It's called "Legends Lost" by Charlie Mac.

It's about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid....Western classic outlaws!