~THE SIX-GUN JUSTICE PODCAST~

CELEBRATING THE BLAZING SIX-GUN ACTION OF THE WESTERN GENRE

IN BOOKS, MOVIES, TV, AND ANY OTHER MEDIA AT HOME ON THE RANGE...

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

WESTERN NOVELS—DESERT STAKEOUT

WESTERN NOVELS
DESERT STAKEOUT
HARRY WHITTINGTON
REVIEWED BY TIM DEFOREST 
Blade Merrick, a sometimes scout for the army, is tasked with bringing a wagon-full of medicine to a epidemic-ridden mission. This means a trip across a bleak desert controlled by the Apaches. Merrick has past experience with the Apaches—the exact nature of which isn't revealed to us until later in the novel—that makes sending him alone a worthwhile idea.

He doesn't stay alone, though. Along the way, he picks up a badly-wounded man and his wife, along with three outlaws whom he immediately realizes he can not trust. Soon, the party is at a waterhole, threatened by Apache and unable to trust one another.

It's a great set-up, generating a lot of tension. Whittington's characterizations are strong as well. Each person in the story, even the mostly despicable bad guys, have real dimension to their personalities. Merrick's past, including his history with the Apaches, is effectively foreshadowed so that when that past plays a key role in the novel's resolution, events play out in an unexpected and satisfying manner.

Much of the novel is Merrick and the outlaws playing cat-and-mouse with one another, with the situation eventually exploding into violence. When the Apaches show up, the novel comes to a brutal and tension-filled climax. At least we think its the climax, because when that situation is resolved, events spill into a SECOND brutal and tension-filled climax.

This may be my favorite Whittington Western.

WESTERN NOVELS—FARGO: SHOTGUN MAN

WESTERN NOVELS
FARGO: SHOTGUN MAN
JOHN BENTEEN
REVIEWED BY TIM DEFOREST 
Fargo is hired by Teddy Roosevelt to lead a scientific expedition down the largely unexplored Colorado River. 

Why hire Fargo for such a job? He's a mercenary, not a scientist. He's needed because the land around the Colorado is owlhoot territory—the last refuge for gunmen and outlaws who are running from the ever-encroaching civilization.  In fact, one expedition has already vanished. A warrior like Fargo is needed to get this latest one through. Benteen builds a superb story off this premise. 

The book is full of great characters (both good guys and bad guys), fast-paced action and a few sharp plot twists. And Benteen's descriptions of the expedition boats running the rapids of the river are breathtaking. He succeeds in making the river itself a character in the story. The way the climax plays out is unexpected and powerful. 

This is a top-notch Fargo book from start to finish.

Monday, November 14, 2022

SIX-GUN JUSTICE PODCAST EPISODE #210—WORLDWIDE WEST TOUR: ENGLAND PT 2

SIX-GUN JUSTICE PODCAST
EPISODE #210
WORLDWIDE WEST TOUR
ENGLAND PART 2
WITH GUEST
ANDREW MCBRIDE
Welcome back, buckaroos, for the second part of our Six-Gun Justice Podcast's Worldwide West Tour visit to England. Join host Paul Bishop as he chats with British Western wordslinger Andrew McBride about all things Western with a British twist...
 
Available now on all major podcast streaming platforms or by clicking on the player below...

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

WESTERN NOVELS—OVER WESTERN TRAILS

WESTERN NOVELS
OVER WESTERN TRAILS
WESTERN FICTIONEERS
SHORT STORY ANTHOLOGY
REVIEWED BY TIM DEFOREST 

Over Western Trails is an excellent anthology of new Western short stories. Most of them are set aboard stagecoaches and its amazing how much variety in terms of plot and character the various authors drew from that basic Wild West setting.

I enjoyed every story here, but the ones that standout in my mind are: 

Minuet has an ending that could easily have been corny and contrived, but works perfectly because of the author's effective prose and characterizations. This endows the story with real humanity. 

Coffin Trace and Bullet Trap for the Stagecoach Queen both mix a lot of great action in with fun and unusual characters. Mrs. Stokes from Bullet Trap is now one of my favorite-ever supporting characters. 

Stage to Yosemite contains a brilliant and unexpected plot twist involving the protagonist. 

Run for Ruby Camp uses an unusual narrative technique to give us an exciting Pony Express tale. 

Stagecoach to Trinidad and The Strongbox give their protagonists strong character arcs involving redemption while telling strong, action-packed stories. 

These are my personal favorites, but every story in Over Western Trails is worth reading.

Monday, October 31, 2022

SIX-GUN JUSTICE PODCAST EPISODE #209—WORLDWIDE WEST TOUR: ENGLAND PT 1

SIX-GUN JUSTICE PODCAST
EPISODE #209
WORLDWIDE WEST TOUR
ENGLAND PART 1
WITH SPECIAL GUEST
DAVID WHITEHEAD
Howdy, cowpokes... It's tea time on the range as the Six-Gun Justice Podcast returns to its Worldwide West Tour with a stop in Ol' Blighty... Join host Paul Bishop and his special guest David Whitehead (aka bestselling Western wordslinger Ben Bridges) as they face down a violent gang of Piccadilly Cowboys and then delve even further into the extensive history of the many indigenous Westerns spawned on British shores...

Available now on all major podcast streaming platforms or by clicking on the player below...
 




Thursday, October 27, 2022

WESTERN NOVELS—THE GUNS OF LEGENDE #6: DIRTY DEEDS

WESTERN NOVELS
DIRTY DEEDS 
THE GUNS OF LEGENDE #6
BRODY WEATHERFORD 
REVIEWED BY TIM DEFOREST
The Society of Buckhorn and Bison is tasked with catching a con artist who is specializing in selling phony deeds to supposedly valuable land. Beautiful gambler Emily O'Connor is assigned to the case, which also involves solving a murder, rescuing a kidnapped woman who might actually be in cahoots with the bad guys and (on a personal level) recovering thousands of dollars in poker winnings that were stolen from her. 

Her ex-husband, whiskey peddler Frank Landry, is also put on the case, though at first they aren't working together. Frank teams up with a beautiful Italian countess, using her as window dressing as he tries to out-con the con man. He discovers, though, that the countess might have an agenda of her own. 

The story smoothly blends action and mystery, keeping it fast-paced and interesting. Frank and Emily , who have appeared in all but one of the books in the series so far, are strong protagonists. They handle themselves well in gun fights and other dangerous situations, but are also smart and able to think quickly when they need to.

The climax, which involves several characters getting trapped in a mine before the villains come to a satisfying comeuppance, is wonderfully handled. "Dirty Deeds" is yet another winner in the Guns of Legende series.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

WESTERN NOVELS—SHADOW VALLEY

WESTERN NOVELS
SHADOW VALLEY
GORDON D SHIRREFFS
REVIEWED BY TIM DEFOREST
Holt Cooper inherits a ranch in Shadow Valley after his brother is murdered. Holt is determined to keep the ranch and even more determined to find his brother's killer. That won't be an easy job.

Shadow Valley is pretty much ringed in with violence. An unknown assassin has been bushwacking small ranch owners, including Holt's brother. In addition, the owner of the biggest ranch wants Holt's ranch for himself and is apparently willing to play rough to get it.

Holt's worries are increased when a woman who had run out on her brother shows up. She has just enough of a Femme Fatale vibe to make her untrustworthy, but its equally possible that she might turn out to be Holt's ally. More murders take place and Holt is accused of being the killer.

Pretty much everyone in the area is against him, while all he has on his side is "his own gun, a little peace-loving cowpoke wo drank medicine that was mostly alcohol, and a woman he didn't understand." 

All this is mixed together to form a plot that expertly combines action and mystery to make "Shadow Valley" a fast, fun read.

Monday, October 17, 2022

SIX-GUN JUSTICE PODCAST EPISODE #208—1876:THE YEAR OF THE GUN

SIX-GUN JUSTICE PODCAST
EPISODE #208
1876:THE YEAR OF THE GUN
WITH GUEST CO-HOST
STEVE WIEGAND
Get them spurs jangling, wranglers, 'cause today's episode is gonna take us back to the year 1876, when the West was truly wild and legends roamed the frontier. Join host Paul Bishop as he chats with Steve Wiegand, author of 1876: The Year of the Gun, about Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickok, Custer and more...It's gonna be a rootin', shootin', good time...
 
Available now on all major podcast streaming platforms or by clicking on the player below...
 

Saturday, October 8, 2022

WESTERN NOVELS—KILLING SPREE

WESTERN NOVELS
KILLING SPREE
JOHN BENTEEN
REVIEWED BY 
TIM DEFOREST 
Killing Spree is arguably one of the most intense novels in the series, filled with brutal non-stop action from start to finish. 

Fargo has invested money in a gold mine and that investment is paying off--until four sadistic outlaws/brothers kill the prospector, kidnap his daughter and leave Fargo for dead. 

However, Fargo isn't quite dead, but he is alone in a ghost town, with his weapons and his boots taken. He's tightly tied up with rawhide and beaten badly enough to leave him with broken ribs and nearly no strength. 

But, then again...well, this is Fargo. Giving up isn't an option.  Driven perhaps more by pure hatred than by a desire to rescue the girl, he figures out a way to get free from the rawhide. 

Then, armed only with a lance made from a broomstick and a nail, carrying a few old whiskey bottles filled with water and meat taken from a coyote he beat to death with a piece of wood, Fargo sets out to kill the four brothers.
 
The brothers have separated, so Fargo eventually encounters each of them separately. Between these encounters, Fargo endures desert heat, pain from his injuries and--at one point--a sandstorm. 

Benteen adds ambiance to the book by spending just a page or two to give the brothers enough of a history (each fathered by a different wife of an apostate Mormon) to give them some uniqueness. 

He also gives each of Fargo's encounters with one of the brothers its own uniqueness, both in setting (a desert camp--a saloon--a ranchhouse--and a camp of Mexican revolutionaries) and in the weapons used. 

These include that broomstick/lance Fargo initially carries, then having him move up to pistols, dynamite, and finally a machine gun and a half-dozen hand grenades. 

Essentially, Fargo has access to more advanced weapons with each encounter, as well as gradually re-acquiring his personal weapons from the bad guys. 

From the moment Fargo is left for dead to when he finally rescues the girl, the story never stops to breath and effortlessly carries us along with it. It may be my favorite of the series.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

WESTERN NOVELS—THREE CROSS

WESTERN NOVELS
THREE CROSS 
RAY HOGAN 
REVIEWED BY 
TIM DEFOREST 
Part of Hogan's Shawn Starbuck series, in which Shawn is searching the West for his long-lost brother. 

In this one, Shawn is running low on funds, so he takes a job as foreman at Three Cross ranch before continuing the search for his brother. 

But Three Cross is in trouble. Fires have been set, cattle has been shot and many of the hands have quit. So Shawn also takes on the job of finding out who is responisble for this trouble. 

There seems to be no reason for it. Rustlers, for instance, would steal cattle and not kill them. In order to properly do his job as foreman, Shawn has to solve a mystery. 

It's a pretty good mystery, though most attentive readers will realize who the villain is and even make a good guess as to the reason behind it all. But the overall plot is strong. 

Shawn is a capable and likeable protagonist who carries the story along nicely. Hogan is able to give real emotion to several character deaths. 

He also includes a number of excellent action scenes. These include an attempted stagecoach robbery that opens the book; Shawn stalking a pair of bushwackers through the woods; an attempt to head off stampeding cattle before they run off a cliff; and Shawn's very tense final confrontation with the bad guys.

Monday, October 3, 2022

SIX-GUN JUSTICE PODCAST EPISODE #207—STEVE HOLLAND: COWBOY

SIX-GUN JUSTICE PODCAST
EPISODE #207
STEVE HOLLAND: COWBOY
WITH GUEST MICHAEL STRADFORD
Boy, howdy, so many of those great vintage Western paperback we'd all run an Apache gauntlet to own and read had one thing in common—the likeness of action model Steve Holland on the covers...

Today, Six-Gun Justice Podcast, host Paul Bishop is joined by special guest Michael Stradford author of Steve Holland: Cowboy, a just released compendium featuring Steve Holland's influence on our conception of the heroic cowboy...

Available now on all major podcast streaming platforms or by clicking on the player below...

Monday, September 26, 2022

WESTERN NOVELS—CROSS THE RED CREEK

WESTERN NOVELS
CROSS THE RED CREEK
HARRY WHITTINGTON
REVIEWED BY
TIM DEFOREST
Harry Whittington is known for writing brutal, engrossing hard-boiled crime fiction. So it's no surprise that his Westerns are also brutal, engrossing and hard-boiled. 

A rancher named Jim Gilmore has a miserably unhappy wife and we meet him while he's riding into new territory, looking to find new land and give himself and his wife a fresh start. But a posse from the nearby town finds him and mistakes him for a bank robber. The charge doesn't stick, but the most of the townspeople still think he's guilty. 

But Jim is sick of running from trouble, so he buys some land and begins building a home. He brings his wife to town, but she remains miserably unhappy. Soon, Jim is framed for a payroll robbery and also gets involved in looking into a year-old murder. 

Violence ensues, with sudden and unexpected character deaths adding to the sense of desperation that drips from Whittington's straightforward but very sharp prose. Everything leads up to a tense and unique showdown with the villain.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

WESTERN NOVELS—COLORADO CITY KILL

WESTERN NOVELS
COLORADO CITY KILL
THE GUNS OF LEGENDE #5
BRODY WEATHERFORD
REVIEWED BY
TIM DEFOREST
After one book in the series in which they did not appear, Frank Landry and Emily O'Conner return as the primary agents of Alistair Legende to complete the Society's latest mission.  I've come to think of the Guns of Legende series as a sort-of western Mission Impossible, with agents assigned to missions as their particular skills dictated. So Frank and Emily are the Martin Landau and Barbara Bain of the series, appearing on a fairly regular basis.

This time out, the plot is driven by a series of con jobs. The villain, Tate Holbrook, is running a scam on Colorado City, taking money on the false promise to provide the city with fresh water. When he commits a murder to protect himself, Legende sends Frank and Emily (along with another agent named Tomcat Meyer) to bring Holbrook to justice. This involves the good guys running a con of their own, designed to get Holbrook away from his ever-present bodyguards.

It's a wonderfully constructed plot. Plans go awry, forcing Frank and Emily to improvise a new plan while being held at gunpoint. A half-dozen outlaw brothers show up, looking for revenge on Frank and Tomcat over another matter entirely, throwing yet another monkey wrench into their plans. And it will turn out that there might be other people around running cons of their own.

There are a number of exciting action scenes, but the story's fast pace is driven largely by the efforts of different characters to outsmart each other. It's a Western AND a multi-faceted con artist tale. And it even sneaks in a look at the differences between justice and revenge. I loved it.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

WESTERN NOVELS—DUEL IN DODGE CITY

WESTERN NOVELS
DUEL IN DODGE CITY
THE GUNS OF LEGENDE #4
BRODY WEATHERFORD
REVIEWED BY
TIM DEFOREST
In this volume, we meet an agent of Alistair Legende that we had not encountered before. And the first few short chapters of the book do a superb job of introducing us to him. Lucas Chambers is a gunfighter, but we also quickly learn that he's cool-headed when facing danger; that he can come up with clever plans but also is able to improvise on the fly; and that he has Chronic Hero Syndrome. 

In the first chapter, he's going up against another gunfighter who beat an aging prostitute to death, because the woman was the sister of a friend. Soon after, he randomly meets a child who's beloved dog was stolen and immediately undertakes the task of recovering the dog. 

We also learn that Lucas' wife was murdered, leaving him with what in some ways a very cynical outlook on life. The details of how his wife died and an encounter with the man responsible are weaved into the plot. 

Lucas' mission is to prevent the assassination of presidential candidate Rutherford B. Hayes. He is to eliminate one of the assassins, take his place, and find out who else is involved in the plot. But events to not proceed smoothly. 

Lucas soon finds himself saddled with a partner he does not want--a woman who is almost certainly insane and who either loves Lucas or wants to kill him. Or both. But circumstances leave him with no choice but to accept this. 

The story is punctuated not just by some great action scenes (a gunfight in a hotel room is particularly exciting), but also by the level of suspense maintained from start to finish. Lucas has to pretend to be stalking Rutherford Hayes, while at the same time watching his back in case other assassins try to take him out. And all of this, remember, is happening while he's looking after a partner who clearly lives in Crazy Town.

It all comes to a wonderfully original conclusion that I don't want to hint at--it's best if the final confrontation with the bad guys sneaks up on you without any knowledge of how its going to play out.

Friday, September 23, 2022

WESTERN NOVELS—GUNSMOKE AND ICE

WESTERN NOVELS
GUNSMOKE AND ICE
THE GUNS OF LEGENDE #3
BRODY WEATHERFORD
REVIEWED BY
TIM DEFOREST
I am continuing to love this series. Gunsmoke and Ice is the third in the series about a secret organization in the Old West that takes on missions given to it by (presumably) the government. 

In this case, the mission seems straightforward. A bank robbery in New Mexico leaves a politically-important man dead, so the Alistair Legende is tasked with bringing the killer to justice. He assigns beautiful gambler Emily O'Connor to the job. Emily's ex-husband--whiskey peddler Frank Landry-is also in the area. 

At first, though, he's not an official part of the mission. Instead, he's trying to buy a piece of the local moonshine action. The result is a story that is--at first--a little less structured than the earlier novels in the series. That's not a criticism, though. The storytelling style is appropriate to the plot, as both Emily and Frank are tossed in and out of danger.

Gradually, the action narrows to where the two are helping transport a wagon load of ice from Taos to Tombstone. For reasons that Frank and Emily do not at first understand, the one survivor of of the original bank robbers is relentlessly pursing that ice shipment. The plot allows for a lot of great action--with bullets flying fast and thick-- and we meet a number of very memorable supporting characters along the way.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

WESTERN NOVELS—DEATH WAITS AT YELLOWSTONE

WESTERN NOVELS
DEATH WAITS AT YELLOWSTONE
GUNS OF LEGENDE #2
BRODY WEATHERFORD
REVIEWED BY
TIM DEFOREST
Another excellent entry in the Guns of Legende series...This one starts with two separate story lines. In one of these, two agents of Alistair Legende are assigned to find a party of VIPs who are apparently lost in the Yellowstone area (which has only recently been made a park by the federal government). 

I don't want to give too much away, because the mystery behind this unfolds in a very satisfying manner, but the reason for the party's disappearance has to do with a haven for outlaws hidden in a remote section of the park. 

Another agent looks into a group of apparent bad guys (called the Scarlet Rogues because they wear red shirts) that has taken an interest in Legende's supposedly secret Society of Buckhorn and Bison. Both story lines include a solid mystery to solve, great action and strong characterizations. 

Eventually, the two story lines join together, unexpected alliances are formed, and the book is brought to a violent and exciting conclusion. The entire story is expertly constructed, with the several plot threads and the actions of the various characters all getting tied together in the climax. 

The two main protagonists, Frank Landry and Emily O'Conner, worked separately in the first novel. In this one, they work together. Because they were once married, but now claim to dislike one another, this allows for some fun interactions between them. 

Some of my favorite highlights from the book include: an encounter in a back alley in Denver that unfolds in an unexpected and very entertaining manner; a truly exciting gun fight in the streets of a small town; a scene in which two sets of protagonists simultaneously outsmart one of the villains in two different ways; and a brutal hand-to-hand fight between Frank Landry and a very dangerous opponent. 

I also learned about the Gardner Machine Gun--a real-life weapon developed in the 1870s that plays an imporant role in the novel. It's always fun when a bit of obscure history gets included in a Western. Like Front Range Rebellion, Death Waits at Yellowstone is a wonderful example of expert storytelling. The Guns of Legende series is two-for-two so far.