Got the news this morning that my second Redemption, Kansas novel HUNTERS was a finalist for the Western Writers of America Spur Award in the Best Mass Market Paperback category. It didn't win -- THE COYOTE TRACKER by my fellow Western Fictioneer Larry Sweazy did; congrats, Larry -- but as they say, it's a real honor just to be nominated. This is the third time one of my books has been a finalist for a Spur Award, the other two being COSSACK THREE PONIES and UNDER OUTLAW FLAGS, both of which are currently available as e-books (he said with a mercenary cackle). Also, another of the Western Fictioneers, Matthew P. Mayo, won a Spur for his novel TUCKER'S RECKONING. Congratulations to Matt as well. You can find the list of all this year's Spur winners and finalists here.
My friend Matt Mayo has started re-issuing some of his early books under his own Gritty Press imprint, and in the case of WINTERS' WAR that name is certainly appropriate. This is a indeed a gritty book, a fine hardboiled revenge Western.
After a prologue reminiscent of Edgar Rice Burroughs in which the author supposedly finds the manuscript that tells this tale in an old trunk on an abandoned ranch in Wyoming, Mayo launches into the story of pioneer cattleman Niall Winters and his wife Jenna. Several years earlier, Niall was forced to fight a range war to keep an interloper from stealing his land, a conflict that people in the area sometimes refer to as Winters' War. That's not the only war Niall has to fight, though, as a spree of murder and kidnapping that has its roots in the earlier troubles breaks out. Complicating things even more is that fact that the first snowstorm of the season is roaring down on Wyoming, and it promises to be an unusually bad one.
Mayo's smooth prose keeps things moving along at a fast pace, and the plot twists and turns in a series of well-written action scenes so that the reader can never be sure who will survive and who won't. The sympathetic characters are appropriately likable and the villains suitably despicable.
WINTERS' WAR is a fine traditional Western that's well worth reading, and I'm glad it's available again in both e-book and trade paperback editions. If you're a Western fan, you need to check it out.
You can check out my review of Matthew P. Mayo's WRONG TOWN over on the Western Fictioneers blog.
As I mentioned, last week was unusual. This week I have only three new books to talk about . . . but they look like good ones.
Paul Cain – THE COMPLETE SLAYERS. This is a beautiful limited edition from Centipede Press that reprints Cain's novel FAST ONE (in its original form as published in BLACK MASK) and all of his shorter fiction. It includes a lengthy biographical introduction by editors Lynn F. Myers Jr. and Max Allan Collins that reveals quite a bit of new information about the mysterious Paul Cain, including his real name. The book is signed by Myers, Collins, and artist Ron Lesser, who provided the great cover and several interior illustrations.
Max Allan Collins (again) – DICK TRACY: THE COLLINS CASEFILES, VOLUME 1. This handsome trade paperback reprints the first three storylines by Collins when he took over the writing duties on the Dick Tracy comic strip in 1977.
Matthew P. Mayo –