So the Wild Bunch ride into the final week of the series devised by Joanne Walpole (aka Terry James) where five writers have showcased their work and promoted the Black Horse Western brand.
Those involved are:
Lance Howard at Dark Bits - http://howardhopkins.blogspot.com/
Terry James at http://joannewalpole.blogspot.com/
I.J.Parnham at the Culbin Trail - http://ijparnham.blogspot.com/
Jack Martin at The Tainted Archive - http://tainted-archive.blogspot.com/
Interesting enough is that while I have been participating in this all the Jack Giles western novels have become available on Amazon uk. Since last week both the sole copies of 'Leatherface' and 'Coalmine' have been sold and are 'currently unavailable'.
August sees the publication of the Linford large print edition of 'Lawmen'.
To continue - after the publication of 'Coalmine' Jack Giles took on the persona of Ryker Frost for two novels. 'A Fortune For War' (1988) and 'The Battle Of Sun Valley' (1989). Both books were set against the background of the American Civil War.
Of the two I prefer the first for the hero is an Englishman who has done time in a penal colony in Australia. All he wants to do is go home and is walking and hitching lifts across America trying to reach a port where he hopes to work his passage back to England. He meets up with a lady who's roots lie in the stews of London's Whitechapel but who has reached the top of her profession in America. They get involved in a plot where some Confederates are stealing from the silver mines. And the hero doesn't know how to use a gun and when he does he has to ask if anyone knows how to reload it.
Jack Giles returned in 1994 with 'The Fourth Horseman'.
It is Friday the 13th and during a thunderstorm a dark presence fills the doorway of the Bates Hotel. He takes Room 13 and signs the register as 'Death'. Government Agent Willard Dull takes a look at the register and figures that the new arrival has an appointment there.
By midnight two men are dead.
The first is an old timer called Hepburn Lance a member of an outlaw gang.
The man in black reached the top of the stairs where he stopped to stand motionless while he listened. From beyond the door marked with a brass number 3 he could hear movement and the creak of bed springs followed by a derogatory laugh that came from a female throat.
"What's up with you, Hep?" the woman's voice was coarse and spiteful. "You lost it or somethin'?"
"It's been a long time, hon," a male voice whined.
"Too old more like." the woman rasped.
"Makes him ready for the grave, lady," the man in black muttered as he lifted his right leg high and thrust it at the door.
It splintered under the force adminstered to it, and slammed free from one hinge as it crashed into the wall. Death stood in the gaping doorway his shadow cast onto the bed where a woman was sitting up and a man was halfway out.
The woman screamed, her hands scrabbling at the bedclothes as she attempted to cover her nakedness, while Lance pulled them away in an attempt to do the same.
"What the hell is this?" Lance yelled, his eyes darting to where his gun was encased in a holster hanging from the brass bedhead - out of reach.
"Judgement Day," Death announced as he drew the right-hand Colt from beneath his overcoat and fired two shots.
Both bullets took Lance in the centre of his scrawny chest, the force of which flung him backwards into a dresser. The corpse bounced forwards to land back on the bed from where it slid down to the floor. Clawed hands dragged the covers with him which had the screaming woman chasing after them.
"I wouldn't bother, lady," Death snorted. "I can see you have nothing to hide."
Death is a man who has a way with grave humour.
And so I come to the end of the Jack Giles books.
"The name's Jed Midwinter.
Folks say that I don't have an ounce of humanity in me. Maybe that's true but then most folks that I've met haven't lived long enough to find out any different."