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Author: Genre: () Length: Novella

Free on 15th - 17th Nov 18
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There’s nothing like a smoking six gun in your hand to make you grow up fast! They were the youngest-and some said the most dangerous-gang in the territory. They were just kids, but the savagery of the untamed West made men out of them before their time.

Free on 15th - 17th Nov 18
View on Amazon.co.uk

Reviews:

"Older readers might find this cliché, younger ones might prefer trope-tastic, but for Western readers it hits every note right."

Reviewer: .


From the moment of their murderous jailbreak, Ride Tall, Hang High takes the reader on a ride along with Willy Boy's gang through the bank robberies and heists to a trip through Willy's memories and how he got to this point.

The story is told in third person, jumping viewpoint characters for some sections, so we get to see what others are thinking. The writing fits: brusque, no frills, with a few sly and outright funny turns of phrase, like taking a saloon girl upstairs after a philosophical discussion to "explore her inner self".

The Sheriff and the good guys are a little cardboard and barely fleshed out, but then it is not their story. This is the story of the black hats-murderers liars and thieves - starting with one murder and ending with another, and its a thundering ride along the way. The gang members themselves are built on Western stereotypes: the Native tracker, the gambler, the young outlaw etc. They even wear black hats, chosen deliberately as a plot point to help them identify other members in fights. Older readers might find this cliché, younger ones might prefer trope-tastic, but for Western readers it hits every note right.

I'd say this is suitable for teen and up, with the age of the characters and the restrained nature of the injuries and limited gore. There's plenty of innuendo, but no overtly adult scenes: the best way I can think to describe it is "movie cowboy violence": Shane rather than Roy Rogers, but not Unforgiven. That said it is a tough and gritty world: the oldest member of the gang is twenty-four and the others don't expect to live that long. Each of them has a back story, barely fleshed out, although we learn more of Willy's than any of the others. I'd expect the others to be expanded in later books in the series.

It is easy to get caught up in the story, and while I despised Willy's attitude to crime and murder, I found myself hoping he would stay ahead of the law just long enough to kill the man who shot his father and tried to murder him. There's no reflection on their actions, even as the bodycount rises, but then are desperate men with their own drives and goals.

Overall, this is one Western fans should pick up. It is the first of a series, and there's a lot of material here, revenge, quests, family, for it to explore.

4 for its audience, Three for anyone else.

Rating: 4



"A fast paced detailed western that fans of the genre should certainly enjoy"

Reviewer: .


Escaping from the town jail with an assortment of criminal, Willy Boy finds himself trying to evade a posse with his new gang. Then, having escaped them killing several men in the process, the group decide to stick together and follow Willy Boy, while starting to hunt the man who killed Willy Boy's father. However, before they can think too long on it, they find themselves being pursued by other bounty hunters, all eager to claim the now sizeable reward placed on each of the group's heads. As they run once again, they have to decide what they will do next, with each of them having their own purpose to fulfil.

Ride Tall, Hang High is the first western in the Outlaws Series and sets the scene for the upcoming stories about the Willy Boy gang. The story is action driven and moves quickly from scene to scene as the gang try to make headway against the law set against them. The book is well detailed in both the armament they carry and the lifestyle they have chosen and the gunfights have a visceral impact to them. The plot does a good job of setting up the characters, fleshing out their pasts and reasons and giving good reason for their actions. It also neatly sets up future stories as each of their purposes can easily fill a novel in their own right. Formatting wise, the book is fine, although there are several times when the scene changes from viewpoint to viewpoint with no obvious break.

However, there are some problems with the story. The characters, well defined though they are, are a group of stereotypes and little has been done to try and subvert it. The leader, the big silent one, the clever one, the card sharp, the American Indian and the Mexican, all with back stories that play to the standard western tropes. The other point is that it is very hard to empathise with a group of murderous thieves and killers, given that their back stories make them more sinners, than sinned against. Also given the odds, it is surprising how the good guys, or at least those following the law, are killed with alacrity, whereas as our outlaws seem to suffer only minor wounds, or at least survivable ones, throughout this story. For me, these flaws did not help my personal enjoyment of the book, but I can understand why fans of the genre and style would certainly enjoy it.

Overall it's a fast paced detailed western that fans of the genre should certainly enjoy, though I spent my time hoping for some of them to get their comeuppance.

Rating: 2



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Discussion

Jackie (18 February 2018)
I've never read anything from the western genre before but this sounds like something I could possibly be interested in reading. I'm always a little wary of action-driven books because I feel like they can skim over character development a bit too much for my tastes. It doesn't sound like that's an issue in this book, despite the heavy use of stereotypes. I'm also very intrigued that the reviewer said the author provides good reasons for the actions of the characters but that their pasts make it difficult to empathize with them. I think that's an interesting juxtaposition. I'll have to try something new and give this book a read. Thanks for the review!

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