Monday, October 31, 2011


This past weekend marked what would have been the 45th wedding anniversary for my beloved Pam and me.
I lost her in February of 2008, coming up on four years now. I miss her and think about her every minute of every day. The pain and emptiness might be unbearable if I didn't also remind myself on each of those days that, before losing her, I had the blessing of having Pam in my life for 41-plus years. That—along with knowing she would expect nothing less but for me to carry on—is what has sustained me through these years without her.
All of that brings me to a reflection on the age-old question:
            Is it better to have loved and lost … or never to have loved at all?
            From my perspective, the answer is simple: Yes, it is better to have loved. The alternative, not having had Pam for the time I did—no, I would not have missed that treasure for anything. Not even to avoid the pain of losing her. She was the best part of me, what made me whole. The term "soul mates" is overused almost to the point of being a cliché, but I truly believe that is what Pam and I found in one another. And as long as she stays alive in my heart, she is never really gone. I still write her cards on occasions such as her birthday, our anniversary, holidays, etc., and put them next to her urn in our living room. One day my ashes will be mixed with hers and we will be together again …

            Another reason for this reflection stems from a conversation I had with my granddaughter, Emily, recently. She was telling me about one of her favorite songs from one of her favorite singing groups. The group is Mayday Parade and the song is called "Terrible Things". She played it for me and then, because I can't understand most of what these current rock groups are screeching these days, she read me the lyrics.
            The gist of the song is a father talking to his son and warning him of the terrible things life can have in store and encouraging him to try and avoid them, especially not to fall in love. It seems the boy's mother died very young, living only long enough for the parents to fall in love and the child to be born.
            Some of the key lyrics are:
            " … That's when I met your mother, the girl of my dreams
            The most beautiful woman that I'd ever seen
             … I said, girl can I tell you a wonderful thing?
            I made you a present with paper and string
            Open with care now, I'm asking you please
            You know that I love you, will you marry me?
             … She said, boy can I tell you a terrible thing?

            It seems that I'm sick and I've only got weeks

            Please don't be sad now, I really believe
            You were the greatest thing to ever happen to me
             … So don't fall in love, there's just too much to lose
            If you're given the choice, I'm begging you choose
            To walk away, walk away
            Don't let it get you, I can't bear to see the same happen to you
            Now son, I'm only telling you this because life can do terrible things."
            When she had finished reading this to me, I asked Emily why the song spoke to her so strongly. She said because she felt that love was "kind of a joke", a fantasy, and that it only lead to heartache. This from a 17-year-old beauty who's had her heart "broken" several times by boys who turned out to be "jerks" (actually, she used a little stronger language than that, but never mind exactly what).
            I realize she is young and perhaps will have her heart broken—and will break a few of her own—several more times before she experiences deep, genuine love. But it troubled me to hear her sentiments on the subject stated so firmly (even if only temporarily, I hope) at this stage in her young life. I realize, of course, I was probably personalizing it a bit due to my own circumstances of having lost a great love. I reminded her of that, the special thing her grandmother and I had, to try and demonstrate to her that love wasn't always "a joke". She conceded that maybe sometimes it could work out that way, but still she seemed to cling to the belief that mostly it only led to heartache.
            It saddened me to hear that … and still does, thinking about it.
            For all I know, Emily has fallen in and out of love a half dozen times since that conversation. In this age of texting and Facebook romances and so forth, the word "love" seems to get tossed around very freely. Maybe that's part of the problem, why it can seem like a joke—because the word and the meaning are at risk of becoming too superficial.
            That would sadden me most of all. If our young lose the hope of true love, then that would be a terrible thing indeed.
            For me, I know better. I know real love is out there and if you're lucky enough to find it, then whatever else may result is worth it.
            So I'll close with some lyrics that speak to me—from Garth Brooks' "The Dance":
            "For a moment all the world was right
 … Holding you, I held everything
            For a moment wasn't I the king
            … I could have missed the pain
            But I'd of had to miss the dance."

Persevere — WD

Sunday, October 16, 2011

James & Livia Reasoner - The WIND RIVER Saga

I have long admired the writing of James and Livia Reasoner (Livia, of course, known professionally by her L.J. Washburn nom-de-plum). I have also envied them the husband-and-wife relationship that has spanned so many happy years of marriage and produced such an impressive body of work—two wonderful daughters being at the head of that list.

One can imagine that a certain amount of collaboration, or at least some back-and-forth critiquing, probably goes into almost everything either of them writes. But for a particular series—the Wind River saga, covering six titles all told—their collaboration may have been as complete and thorough as anything they've done. Originally published as a set of paperback originals by Harper Collins, the intent of the authors was for the books to come out under a joint byline. As it turned out, however, the publisher insisted only a single name be used … that of James. This in no way detracted from the reading public's enjoyment of these fine novels, but it nevertheless was a disappointment to James and Livia.

Now, through the magic of eBooks, not only is this entire series available once again but this time it is appearing with both bylines—James Reasoner and L.J. Washburn—as originally intended.

The Wind River books are about as good as it gets in the Western genre. Centered around former Army scout/buffalo hunter Cole Tyler—who takes on the job of town marshal when Wind River is little more than a primitive outpost—the books follow Tyler as he grows as a lawman and a person and as the town grows and evolves around him. The stories are rich with action, a strong sense of time and place, and a wide range of colorful, memorable characters. Elements of drama, suspense, mystery, and even some Indian (the Native American kind) mysticism are to be found as well—all presented in the Reasoners' assured, skilled, clear and clean writing style.

It is recommended that the books be read in sequence, to best follow the carefully-plotted thread of the complete storyline. In order, the titles are:
            WIND RIVER


Reasonably priced for Kindle and Nook, with beautiful new covers designed by Livia herself, this terrific series definitely belongs in your library of top-notch Westerns.
If you read 'em before, savor them again. If you missed them the first time around, don't make that mistake twice.

Strongly recommended.

Persevere — WD

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Noteworthy Reads: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE MURDEROUS by Chester D. Campbell

This is the second Sid Chance mystery. After serving with Army Special Forces in Vietnam, Sidney Lanier Chance (his mother was an American literature major) put in nineteen years as a National Park Service ranger. That career tragically ended when marijuana growers using a remote section of a national park nearly killed him. He worked as police chief in a small town not far from Nashville for ten years until an unsavory sheriff falsely charged him with bribing a drug dealer. Disillusioned, he holed up in a cabin in the woods until a former cop turned wealthy businesswoman coaxed him home to Nashville and into the PI business.
The Good, The Bad and The Murderous finds Sid taking on one of his toughest cases. A young black man just out of prison after serving thirteen years for a murder he committed at age twelve is charged with a new homicide. Detectives say they have evidence that proves his guilt. His grandmother hires Sid to prove they’re wrong.
Jaz LeMieux, board chair of a large truck stop chain whose curious background includes champion woman boxer, Air Force Security Policewoman, and Metro Nashville cop, assists Sid in the investigation. They turn up evidence of Medicare fraud, drug dealing, and police corruption. In the process, Jaz faces police retaliation and a hired gun appears to have Sid in his sights.
The book is available in trade paperback and for the Kindle at It's also at for various formats.
The first Sid Chance book, The Surest Poison, won the Silver Falchion Award at the 2009 Killer Nashville conference.
Chester Campbell is also the author of the Greg McKenzie mysteries. You can read more about him and his work at:

I recommend checking out this book, by one of my fellow Hardboiled Collective members.

Persevere --- WD

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


                                           Split Novella
(Two Stories – Joe Hannibal/Noah Milano)

                                     Available Now FREE

            Jochem Vandersteen (Dutch author of the Noah Milano series and head honcho at the always entertaining Sons of Spade blog) has come up with an interesting concept. He calls it a split novella … Think of the old Ace "double novels", only in this two-for-one concept you get two short stories under one banner, rather than two novel-length works.

            A good deal made sweeter by the fact that it's free.

            The stories involved here are:
  • "Real Wild Child" – a quick, tough tale featuring Los Angeles PI Noah Milano trying to rescue a hot young "wild child" from the clutches of a thuggish motorcycle gang. Trouble is, the girl doesn't want to be rescued … a fact Noah is forced to learn the hard way.
  • "Brand It M – For Murder" – featuring my Midwest PI Joe Hannibal, now transplanted to Nebraska, participating in a day of cattle-branding on a small Sandhils ranch where the planned activity goes startlingly wrong when a killer strikes. This is something of a change of pace for a Hannibal story, wherein Joe relies more on his deductive prowess than his fists and gun. But the tension and suspense build steadily, right up to the final revelation.

And don't forget – all of this is available for Free.

All you have to do is send me an e-mail request at and I will send back to you, in pdf format, the split novella package. If you've never read any Hannibal or Milano stories before this is a quick, easy (and did I mention Free?) way to get acquainted … or re-acquainted, if that's the case. Either way, Jochem and I hope you will enjoy what you read and want to seek out more. Naturally, any feed back you care to send will be appreciated.

Persevere — WD

Monday, October 10, 2011


There is a new interview with yours truly available now at Mike Murphy's .
Hope you give it a look and find it interesting.

Persevere --- WD

Friday, October 7, 2011


This second collection of Cash and Gideon stories is every bit as good as Volume I, which should come as no surprise to anyone who's been following this fine series by Edward Grainger (who everyone knows is really author/editor/publisher David Cranmer).

These stories of the Old West are tough and gritty, befitting the era. And even at a time when justice came swift and hard, a time before complex rules and regulations started favoring the rights of the lawless over those of their prey—Marshal Cash Laramie's brand of justice has an intensity all its own. He is sent out (sometimes sided by Gideon Miles, sometimes on his own) on the toughest assignments and this he seems to relish. He is relentless in his pursuit and if/when a showdown ensues he asks no quarter … and gives none.

For all that, there is a quirkily compassionate side to Laramie as well. And his skills as a lawman also include using deductive reasoning. In "Cash Laramie and the Painted Ladies"—one of my favorite stories in this collection—Cash dishes out plenty of lead and tough talk but, in the end, his deciphering of clues is what solves the final mystery. Conversely, Cash is at his grimmest and most unforgiving in the hauntingly memorable "Maggie's Promise". Another particularly notable story (although each stands on its own merit) is "Origin of White Deer" which details Cash's early years as a white child raised by Indians and then his transition back into the white man's world and how he chose the path of a lawman.

The stories are lean, fast-paced, impactful.
They will remind you why Westerns still stand tall.
Check 'em out, you'll be glad you did.

Persevere --- WD


At the urging of others, whom I will not name (unless I want to blame them later on), this old dinosaur took another step into the social networking world and joined Twitter. Anyone following this blog must have noticed by now that I have a tendency toward long-windedness ... so messaging in short bursts of words didn't necessarily sound like my cup of tea. (Not to mention the image risk that "Tweeting" might pose for a writer of hardboiled PI and Western fiction.)
Having given it a try, however, and having gotten a nice reception from several followers already, I think it is going to be interesting and enjoyable.
So if you're on Twitter and haven't found me there yet, please look me up at: @wddundee .
Then we can begin ... er ... tweeting each other.

Persevere --- WD

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Noteworthy Reads: ROGUE ISLAND by Bruce DeSilva

ROGUE ISLAND is a terrific mystery/thriller in the best hardboiled tradition.

Its protagonist—Liam Mulligan—is a savvy, wise-cracking, skeptical-on-the-verge-of-becoming-cynical newspaper reporter delving relentlessly into whatever/whoever is behind a string of deadly arsons in the Mount Hope section of Providence, Rhode Island.
Mulligan knows his city inside and out—from its worst to its best, and everything in between. He also knows its people, having friends as well as enemies at all levels. And above all he knows that he is among the last of a dying breed, inasmuch as the impact of print journalism is declining all across the country. But none of that is damn well going to stop him from continuing to do his job the only way he knows how.

DeSilva's multi-award winning writing style (Edgar and Macavity – not to mention placing as a finalist for a Shamus, Barry, and Anthony) is fast-paced yet richly detailed, nailing a character or painting a scene with clear, concise strokes. Mulligan's wise cracks and wry observations are as witty (and often laugh-out-loud funny) as anything going today. But there is a grittiness and depth to this tale as well, never letting the reader forget for a minute that cruel, cowardly crimes are being committed and innocent lives (some of them children – as described in the powerful opening scene) are too often left as smoldering victims.

Certain plot elements may be somewhat standard, but the polished writing and colorful characterizations manage to elevate everything several notches up the ladder.
Mulligan makes for an engaging, memorable hero and readers—including this one—will certainly be clamoring to see more of him.

Good stuff.
Strongly recommended.

Persevere --- WD

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"O'DOUL" - New Western Novella Now Available
A Dime Novel - short Western adventure... O’Doul has been a lot of places and done a lot of things in his life. Now, working on a ranch outside the town of Pitchfork Creek, he finds bad things happening all around. The ranch owner and his wife are splitting up and O’Doul is forced to ride herd on a hot-headed young cowboy. When things come to a head, O'Doul makes a fatal decision and goes into action.
This is my latest Western yarn from Western Trail Blazer --- part of their Dime Novel line, which consists of novella-length works available in various eBook formats (as opposed to the full-length novels they also publish in both print and eBook format). "O'Doul" is a gritty, somewhat noirish tale of a handful of people --- including one man in particular --- who've gotten some tough breaks out of Life yet are striving to find "a decent path" to continue down. 
I hope you give it a try.
I think you'll like it.
Persevere --- WD

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Noteworthy Reads: KILLING LINCOLN by Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard

This exciting page-turner can be read as a suspense thriller, a detailed slice of American history—or both. I chose the latter approach and found it lacking as neither.

The writing style is clean and straightforward yet richly descriptive in its presentation of people, places, events, conditions, and motives.

This telling covers the span of time from right after Abraham Lincoln's second inauguration through to the capture and punishment of those who conspired to kill him. This period includes the final days and battles of the Civil War, Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox, the plotting of John Wilkes Booth and those he gathers about him, the assassination itself, and the massive manhunt that is launched to apprehend all involved. As factual characters are introduced —ranging from embattled soldiers to stable hands and bartenders to wives and mistresses to the most prominent men in the country—their individual back stories, both before and after the central events of the book, expand both the depth and scope of the recounting.

All in all, I found this to be a fascinating, informative, couldn't-put-it-down read.
Full disclosure: I'm a big Bill O'Reilly fan. For those of you who may be biased the other way, I strongly recommend you not let that dissuade you from reading Killing Lincoln. You'll be short-changing yourself if you do.

Persevere — WD