GUN TROUBLE AT DIAMONDBACK by Peter Brandvold
Peter Brandvold has a new Western series out, which is nothing new for him because he is a prolific writer and loves telling stories. This time his hero is Bear Haskell, a US marshal operating out of Denver. His beat ranges from Minnesota to Texas.
With over a hundred Westerns under his belt, Brandvold knows his way around the genre and doesn’t waste any time getting his boots on the ground. The violence is hard and vicious, the gunplay fast and lethal. Haskell takes on a bad bunch in the opening chapter, then doesn’t miss a beat hooking up with a tempting young woman. This is an Adult Western, and Brandvold knows his way around those too. He wrote 30 of them in the Longarm series under the house name Tabor Evans.
The read is breezy and light, moving quickly. There are plenty of desperados in this first book when Bear (to his friends) goes looking for the murderer of his longtime friend Lou Cameron, who was marshal of a small town called Diamondback.
An aside: I don’t know if the Lou Cameron name was picked purposefully or if Brandvold just inadvertently used it. Lou Cameron was a real person and authored over three hundred novels, many of them in the Western and Adult Western genres. And Cameron even wrote some of the Longarm novels himself, so this is probably a tribute of sorts. Just FYI, Cameron’s Renegade series about Captain Gringo is being republished by Piccadilly Publishing, the same publishers that are putting out the Haskell series. If you love rip-roaring books, try them out.
So it jarred me every time I read Lou Cameron’s name. But Brandvold keeps the spurs to his story and hammers through the lies and violence that surround the murder. To make matters worse (or, more interesting), Cameron’s widow, Suellen Treadwell, is still in town too. She was the one who damaged the friendship between Bear and Cameron, although the way she tells it, Bear was the one who made the first move that ended up with them in bed. Both of them were drunk at the time.
The characters are colorful, and the town and surrounding countryside feels real. I was honestly surprised by the motive for the marshal’s killing because I didn’t see it coming. And I was surprised again when I found out who the killer was because even with my eyes wide open at the time, I didn’t see that coming either.
This series is going to be one of those fun reads. Especially now when it’s too hot to go outside, and they’ll be great to curl up with on late winter nights.