book reviews

3 Great Westerns

I’ve been addicted to Westerns for a few months now. If you have any favorites, I’d love to hear about them.

Here are three more great books, two available through NetGalley and one through Kindle:

  1. Hell Star — everything you’d want from a Wild West story
  2. Brokeheart — an unemployed journalist finds more than a new job
  3. Jess Williams series –– a good kid turns into a bounty hunter of the Old West’s most heinous murderers after his family is viciously killed by outlaws

Hell Star

by Chuck Mason


In Chuck Mason’s Hell Star (Pioneering Press 2017),   Link Leyland is a retired Marshall back in the days of America’s Wild West, when the law was pretty much whatever could be meted out between an action and reaction. The faster you were, the more power you had. Despite reaching the old age of 37, Leyland is called back from retirement to investigate the death of his former partner in the lawless town of Prairie City. He goes undercover, supposedly to buy cattle, but before he even enters town, he comes upon a stagecoach being robbed and must stop it. From that point on, it’s a struggle to maintain his cover and face down the robbers who have the support of the town’s leaders. Here’s a taste of Mason’s storytelling:

“Southward, the prairie, wide, rolling, featureless, stretched away to the distant horizon and beyond, and so it was to the east. Northward, the silent shoulders of rugged mountain ranges reared up like sentinels, and somewhere among their foothills lay Leyland’s destination—Prairie City.”

The characters are interesting, the plot is quick, and the ending satisfying. I’d love to read more of this author.

–received free from NetGalley in return for an honest review


by Kevin Wolf

4 of 5 stars

Kevin Wolf’s Brokeheart (Northstar Editions 2017) is the story of a newspaper reporter (Kepler) who loses his job and ends up in the dilapidated mining town of Brokeheart Colorado, accepting an underpaid position on the local paper. His stories bring him to the attention of the town’s wealthy landowner who hires him to oversee the building of his house (a bit of a leap of faith here: Why would I believe a newspaper writer could manage construction, but this is the old West–they didn’t have a lot of choices back then). Because of the substantial pay raise, Kepler takes the job but can’t let go of the mystery he’s been pursuing behind a series of local deaths. Some have been murders, one a suicide, but all were unusual. As he works his new job, he continues to investigate and begins connecting the dots in ways that aren’t good for his current career or his health.

Wolf’s authorial voice is strong albeit a bit dark, but he puts you right into the atmosphere of a late 1800s Western town. I enjoyed following along, always curious about what would happen next.T

The Reckoning (Jess Williams, #1)The Jess Williams Series

by Robert J. Thomas


Robert Thomas’ 62-book-long (as of June 2017–Thomas seems to write almost a book a month) Jess Williams’ series is an old west Robin Hood story that will in equal parts enrage and energize you but always satisfy your thirst for justice, goodness, and a well-told story. At the age of 14, Jess Williams’ parents and 7-year-old sister are viciously and hideously killed. Before that, Jess was like any other teenager growing up in the American West. With the loss of his family, he vows to hunt down the men who did it and bring them to justice. This he does with the help of an amazing gun that appears out of nowhere. It takes a lot of practice, but he becomes the fastest draw anywhere and a bounty hunter who hunts only the worst of the worst murderers and a valued partner to any number of western US Marshalls, town sheriffs, and god-fearing people

The series details how Jess uses his clever mind to go after evil and right wrongs. It does earn him prodigious amounts of money which he is as likely to use on his friends, donate to local money-poor towns, and to help the common man struggling to survive the travails of a western existence as he is to build his bank account in his hometown.

This is a satisfying series well written with lots of action.

View all my reviews

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and  Twenty-four DaysShe is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

49 thoughts on “3 Great Westerns

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  6. You brought back memories of the German writer, Karl May, who set his stories in the American Wild West. During my student days in Heidelberg, I read several Karl May books. I recall too the days we went to Buckskin Joe near the Royal Gorge in Colorado where many Western movies were filmed. There are re-enactments there today which are really great. You can walk the wooden sidewalks and visit the jail and stores on Main St. or even take a stagecoach ride. Very uncomfortable and without shock absorbers. Thanks for this interesting post. I’ll add the books to my reading list. My introduction to Westerns was The Lone Ranger on the radio which I followed as a radio play with sound effects. Later I saw it on my neighbor’s television before we got our own. I was scared and gripped the chair as I viewed it. How thrilling. ^__^

    Liked by 2 people

    • the cowboy-themed romances are probably similar to westerns. Most westerns have some sort of love interest but it’s part of the macho characterizations. BTW, the women are as likely to be tough as the men. Not a lot of wilting violets in the old west.


  7. Thanks for posting these reviews. I used to be a fiend for Westerns many years back. Have not read one for many years now and would love to get my hands on one. These books don’t seem to be available on Amazon in India. Will get to it soon I am sure.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. The best western I have read is The Shootist by Glendon Swarthout. This was made into a movie of the same name and inspired another, Unforgiven. A literary western, if there can be such.

    Liked by 1 person

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