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Monday, May 7, 2018

Silver Shot by Gary McCarthy

How time flies. April shot by like it was only a figment of my imagination and here it is almost the middle of May and past time to give my thoughts on Silver Shot, a novel by Gary McCarthy.

I met Mister McCarthy at the Wickenburg Book Festival on April 7th and he explained how he began writing his series of novels about the "Derby Man." I found it interesting and traded him a couple of my books for an autographed Derby Man book. He gave me two of them.

Anyway, I started with Silver Shot and liked it. Darby Buckingham is the name of the Derby Man, a writer who writes the old-fashioned shoot-'em-ups and he is just putting the finishing touches on his latest called The Pony Express War. in Silver City, Nevada. He hears a ruckus outside his hotel window and before he knows it, he's mixed up with Conrad Trent, a big mining stock manipulator. He and Trent get on opposite sides in the argument when Trent shoots a young Irishman who has stock in the Emerald Mine. Buckingham and Trent are both boxing enthusiasts, Darby, an ex-heavyweight champion, and Trent considers himself to be just as good. Neither would cheat in a match, would they? They soon are engaged in the manly art of fisticuffs under the Marquis of Queensbury Rules, which rules were practically foreign to Darby.

Darby writes a long letter to his girlfriend, Dolly Beavers, inviting her to come to Silver City, and you can guess where this is going. Dolly comes to town and finds out that Darby is mixed up with a Julie Bulette, a prominent lady of the night. Darby has a heckuva time getting out of the predicament he's in with Dolly and Conrad Trent. They all have or buy stock in the Emerald mine and are afraid of losing their money the way Trent is manipulating the stock.

Darby must take things in hand as soon as he and the Bulette woman get out of the mineshaft they have been tossed in to get them out of the way.

I enjoyed reading about the Comstock silver mine and the descriptions of Silver City as the protagonist digs out of the hole. Filled with action and suspense, it is an awesome story to behold and I look forward to reading more of the Derby Man.

I enjoyed meeting and chatting with Gary McCarthy, too, who lives in Arizona, a National  Award Winner and Spur Award Winner.


Saturday, March 31, 2018

U.S. Marshal Shorty Thompson by Paul L. Thompson

This episode of the Marshal Shorty Thompson series is Killing of Outlaws.  

In this wild story, the father of Betty Sue Gains is killed by the outlaw Bob Eaves and his gang of marauders and killers. Some mysterious and unknown person or persons are behind this killing and others, as Eaves and his men attempt to drive all the farmers out of the Mesilla Valley in New Mexico and Texas. The man wants all the land to plant cotton.

Betty Sue, a 14-15-year-old, is upset, to put it mildly, that her father was killed. She is going to kill every one of those marauders and outlaws so they can't do more harm to anyone. She needs to find out who is behind it and go get him or them, too. She checks in with the local sheriff in Mesilla and they work together to find out the bigwigs behind all the killing. In no short order, the outlaws start losing men and they can't figure out who the shooter is, thinking it may be a bounty hunter collecting the rewards on all the bad ones.

Sheriff Cole soon sends for Shorty for help. Betty Sue moves in with her friend's family (the Carters) now that she is home alone. She and Jody, the friend and teen-aged boy, spend time together and are familiar with each other, having grown up as close neighbors. Jody helps her out as much as he can, but doesn't really know what she is up to and can't connect the dead men with her. Shorty gets into Mesilla and learns what the situation is and thinks Betty Sue is in the way, always hanging around the sheriff and him.

She makes trips to Las Cruces to see the sheriff and hears about a gent named Glassman. She thinks Glassman is running the outlaws and soon shoots him and several of his men and the sheriff of Las Cruces. Glassman and the sheriff are only wounded.

As Shorty and the law begin to close in on the "big" man, named Jordan, Betty Sue has wiped out the Eaves gang. Glassman goes to El Paso to heal up and hire more gunmen. A trap is set for the new men and Glassman and Jordan as the story begins to wind down.

This is an action-packed novel that kept me interested all the way to the end and that, too. The only thing that I didn't like about it was the misspellings and not paying close attention to the narrative (missing/adding words,etc.). The cowboy dialect was used off and on throughout, which covered over some mistakes and POV was not always clear. Overall, I enjoyed the story that had me on edge throughout to see what happens next. I give it four stars and will read more of the Shorty Thompson books as time allows.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Events Coming Up

The annual Parada del Sol Rodeo will run from MARCH 8 TO 11, THIS MONTH IN SCOTTSDALE, AZ.There will be horses, steers, dances, concerts, live Western Music and other activities. Y'all come and have a great time.

St. Patrick's Day Parade and Irish Family Faire will take place on March 17th. Parade begins at 10:00  AM and ends up at Margaret Hance Park in downtown Phoenix.

Scottsdale Arts Festival, March 9-11. One of the top festivals in the nation with artists from the US and Canada, continuous live music and food (woops!) culinary arts.  In Scottsdale, yep.

Spring training baseball all over the valley continues this month. Flip a coin on where to see a game, Peoria? Surprise? Phoenix? Maryvale? or Scottsdale and Glendale? Beer and hot dogs galore! Fifteen teams to choose from!

Ain't Spring Grand?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Slow John by C. J. Petit

Slow John by C. J. Petit is a fine story, somewhat long, but well told. It starts with a Prologue that sets up the whole thing, in which John Flynn (Slow John) is fighting in the Civil War, but the Army sends his Ma and Pa a telegram that he had been killed unbeknownst to John. John continues fighting and is transferred to the frontier to fight the Indians in Nebraska and the Dakotas. There is a girl, Kate, who gets defiled by John's brother, Jack, introduced in the Prologue.

The story gets underway as John is ready to get mustered out of the Army in Omaha, not far from his home in Bellevue, which he hadn't visited in the years of the War. He makes a short visit to his old hometown where most of the people he had known are now gone including his family. He was hoping he might get a clue to where they had moved by talking to anyone he used to know. "They went west" was about all he could glean. At the hardware store, he runs into an old acquaintance Melissa and scares her husband to death, literally.

He heads west to find his family and makes a camp on the south side of the Platte River where he runs across a sod house sitting by itself. In the house is a girl, Kate, the one defiled by his brother. She is being kept captive by three men (father and two sons) for their own gratification. Slow John kills them and leaves with Kate.

You can see where this is going, I think, as John falls in love with Kate and has a couple more run-ins with bad "hombres".  I won't belabor you with the ending, which you may find exciting because I want you, the reader, to discover what happens. I would give the story four stars, but the book itself, I would have to give it three stars for the misspelled words and words left out, which another proofreading would probably clear up. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Seasons Greetings

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

I've been on a "Sabbatical" for the last few months (how time flies) and will probably stay on it for a while longer. I've had so much running around to do that I just turn on the computer to check my email or work on Part 2 of Bobby Chase-the-Lord. It's coming along fairly good and am looking to finish it summer of 2018.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS and look here for an occasional post. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

National Poets' Day

Thanks to Charles Gramlich for the news of this being Poetry Day. I'm an amateur poet but don't know it, so here's is my contribution. It has been posted before but not on National Poet's Day and I can't vouch for its authenticity as a poem.

A Warm Spring Day

It was a warm Spring day in 1940.
I was in the second grade and feeling sporty.
The horses, cows and pigs were content
In the fields where they were sent.
The birds were tweedle-dumming and tweedle-deeing,
The dogs and cats were lying and sleeping.
The boys and girls were in the schoolhouse,
Some were dozing and dreaming.
The lunch recess had come and gone,
When we ran and played so long.
The sun was passing through the sky,
Causing the heat in the rooms to be high.
My old gym shoes were ragged and torn,
And on my sockless feet, were worn.
The odors were building in the room so close,
The teacher looked at me and was morose.
From those sockless feet came a stink,
So bad it made some eyes blink.
Teacher raised her arm, pointed her finger, and said
"OSCAR, GO HOME AND WASH YOUR FEET,
AND PUT ON SOME SOCKS,
BEFORE YOU TAKE YOUR SEAT!!
I was taken aback and completely dejected,
But went home and did what was expected.
I'll never forget that awful day,
When the teacher had her way.
Now, I wash my feet,
Before taking my seat,
On a warm Spring day in May!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Coffin for Cash by Nik Morton

This novel is another in the Cash Laramie series and I enjoyed the read. It starts with a Prologue with Cash Laramie buried in a coffin and uses the back story to tell how he got there. He was helping a lady, Berenice Rohmer, look for her brother who came up missing after withdrawing $50,000 from the bank. His partner Miles is also working on a case. He was taking a prisoner to Cheyenne for trial but suspects that the fellow was not guilty of murder.

Miles and Cash each follow their separate trails and end up practically with each other, except Cash was buried under two feet of soil in a coffin by a couple who had owned the hotel near the Lenore Casino. It was named after the wife of Baron Hans von Kempelen, the owner.

This was an interesting story and how it comes out is rewarding to me, the reader. There are many twists and turns which makes it even more exciting and kept my attention to the end. I will award it five stars.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Life at the Dakota by Stephen Birmingham

Too bad this book isn't about the Dakotas of the West and Deadwood, South Dakota,  but it's the Old New York version of the Old West. The Dakota (Apartments) was named after the Old West because at the time news about the Wild West was a popular subject and The Dakota was built outside of New York City about 30 miles away from downtown New York City. It had a bad name because it was on the West Side where the working people lived. It was actually on the west side of Central Park with a view of the park across the street from the upper floors and roof. It was built by Edward S. Clark and Isaac  Merritt Singer, the inventor of Singer Sewing Machines. Both were millionaires and the Dakota was built for rich people.

Some of the residents are/were the Steinways (the Piano people), Boris Karloff, Lauren Bacall, John and Yoko Lennon, Robert Ryan, Roberta Flack, Candace Bergen, Leonard Bernstein, Earl Blackwell, Henry Blanchard, Mrs. Winifred Cecil Blanchard, The Browning Sisters, etc., etc., and etc., all millionaires or had the money to live there. Mister Birmingham tells the history from the time it was built to present day, the structure, the layout, the services, and ll the esoteric plumbing and electricity when it came into being, the elevators, the rooms available, size and decorations, and so on.

The first years it was all rentals until it was bought out and the new owner threatened to tear it down and put up a commercial building of some type. It was finally worked out to be a cooperative where the apartments had to be bought and managed by the co-op itself. A lot of the services were covered by the Clarks in a haphazard fashion, but now the owners must pay for everything and the prices went up.

Some of the tenants were not happy with the arrangements and some moved out, making the apartments available for others to purchase and some lived there free. Miser Birmingham does a fine job explaining all this in the book and I found it very interesting as it still stands today. He tells about the uptown and downtown rich people that you can be right there with him.

I give the book five stars for enjoyment and it is well written.  

Friday, August 18, 2017

Manhunter by Matt Braun

Luke Starbuck, the private detective, is at it again in Manhunter. He is hired to find the James boys and kill them, especially Jesse. He puts on disguises as needed as usual and travels to Clay County, Missouri, where he thinks he may find the James boys. He passes time with a floozie named Alvina in a brothel where the Younger brothers hang out and occasionally Frank and Jesse visit. He plans to infiltrate the gang acting as a horse thief but doesn't quite make it.

He hears about the plan to rob a bank in Northfield, Minnesota, and Starbuck makes tracks there to thwart the robbery. As we know it was a mess and the bank was saved and the robbers get away. Starbuck doesn't get a clear shot of Jesse and has to follow them out of town where the Youngers brothers are wiped out, at least one of them.

Starbuck tries another tactic after the Northfield failure and catches up with Jesse in St. Joseph, Missouri, but his plan to get Jesse fails with the killing of Jesse by Bob Ford. He goes after Frank who is a different type and captures him.

I thought this was an entertaining rendition of the end of Jesse and Frank James and give it a solid four stars. Matt Braun is a fine writer and brings satisfaction to the reader. Recommended.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Jolly Old England

Deviating from my usual Western books, I've taken a diversion to England via Bill Bryson's book,  The Road to Little Dribbling. I really like books with comedy in them and this is one of the finest in my estimation. This is strictly, well almost, all non-fiction, but Bryson throws in some asides that could be either in this travel exposition. He travels a route from one end of the country to the other, ending in Cape Wrath in Scotland.

Along the way, he expounds on the railroads, the people, the towns and villages, the countryside and the museums. Bryson became a British citizen after he realized that it was better than the U.S. where he was born. He is a journalist and lived in London for some years, marrying an English woman and having a couple of kids there. He rattles on about the shabbiness of some towns since he was last there and how the people had changed and their sense of humor. Bryson spends time commenting on the railroad system and how the UK government has screwed up some of it and reduced the tracks to about half what they used to be. He spends a lot of time in Museums, explaining their exhibitions and how brilliant the English are in comparison to everyone else in certain fields. His descriptions of the countryside around these various towns and the beach resorts are really interesting. He doesn't include many sports, except walking. There are thousands of miles of trails through the countryside and along the seaside and he does quite a bit of it.

Bill Bryson is a funny writer and I enjoyed the book. I'll even give it five stars to show how much I liked it and if you like travel writing, I recommend it highly.