...right, i'll review this properly when I finish it (with a scan nicked off the interweb no doubt), but just had to post now, kinda to remind myself.
I've read heaps of Westerns recently (Apache 2: pretty good, Claw 5: surprisingly good, heard this series wasn't all that but I disagree, very violent with a hell-for-leather hard-drinking protagonist, a Gunslinger: also pretty fine...good old Angus Wells). A lot of Laurence James too (and the first Sabat novel by GNS which I thought was an absolute revelation, but that's another story). Reading Western after Western, they can tend to blend into one...however...
Started this one today and could tell it was a classic from the opening scene: Herne in bed with some poor masochistic, troublesome whore of an Army captain's wife (pithily described in true LJ fashion). The drunken husband returns, tries to fuck with Herne, and, well, you can guess what happens. This books starts off in a sneering, witty and mean-spirited fashion and keeps the foot on the pedal throughout. A real joy so far.
Laurence James was damned inconsistent, wasn't he? The most recent Herne I read (Death Rites) was pretty pedestrian, seemed to have been written on autopilot, nothing there to stick in the mind really. Writing as many books as he did, it's not surprising I guess (although TH wrote 61 Edge books and they ARE pretty damn consistent, in my view). When LJ's on form though, he must be my favourite writer by a long shot. Herne's dialogue is razor sharp, no concession whatsoever is made to humanity or kindness, and the whole vibe is so fucking punk rock it excites me greatly. Some snot-nose Cavalry lieutenant has just been scalped, inevitable from the moment he ponces into the action. Jed tried to warn him that Geronimo was not to be trifled with, but, would he listen? The arrogance of youth!
Likesay, I'll fashion a proper report upon completion. I'm lying on my bed trying to ward off the blues, listening to an old Amphetamine Reptile compilation, and this book is fitting my mood like a glove. Very nihilstic at the moment. Thank the lord for Laurence James!
as it goes, the pedestrian one may have been a john harvey. he was bloody awful at westerns, though his crime stuff is excellent. i don't have a list to hand, but the LJ piece in Paperback Fanatic should clue you in.
and bear in mind that LJ was, at one point in the mid-late seventies, writing virtually a paperback a month in at least four or five different series. quality is bound to be a little erratic under such circumstances. also, speaking as some one who's had to produce under some very trying circumstances this year, real life does get in the way, and contracts make no allowances for this. GNS has the same problem at some points. any prolific writer does, as they are at the mercy of editors rather than some spurious idea of art. and editors - trust me - are not merciful creatures...