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I hadn’t really intended to write anymore about the William W. Johnstone books, but the Sidewinders post back on August 30th has proved to be very popular. I still get two or three hits a week on it and, at the rate it’s going, it will soon be the top entry I’ve posted(it’s second behind About,the one on myself). I actually started this post in December and it’s moved up the list from about fifth since then. It is only two points now away from the most read post I’ve written. People seem fascinated with the identity of J. A. Johnstone, the name attached since William passed away a few years ago. Everyone wants to know who’s carrying on those wonderful characters.

So here goes.

SIDEWINDERS II: MASSACRE AT WHISKEY FLATS

It starts with Bo and Scratch breaking up a tar-and-feathering of a young conman, the would-be victim getting away in the ruckus. Then, on the way out of town, said victim tries to hold them up, to steal their horses and gear as he’s on foot.
Bo sees something in the young man, though, and they take him along.
Then a rock slide takes a man ahead of them and looking for identification, they discover he’s a Marshall hired to tame Whiskey Flats. Bo has the idea to let their “friend” pose as the Marshall, with them as deputies, to “fleece” the town. Bo still feels he’s honest deep inside, just needs a little growing up.
They didn’t know what they were getting into. Rustlers were stealing from the two large ranches and the owners were blaming each other. Also evidence turns up of someone selling new Winchesters to Apaches.
Is it two different schemers or one causing the mischief? And why?

PREACHER’S PURSUIT

Someone is trying to kill Preacher. In the past couple of days, two men attempted to gun him down and three men triggered a landslide trying to take him out. In all cases, the mountain man wants one alive to find out who’s after him. Not only that, someone has armed the Blackfeet with new muskets and they intend to wipe out Corliss and Hart’s outpost and all the whites living around it.

Well crafted novel of the early days of the west. Highly entertaining.

VIOLENCE OF THE MOUNTAIN MAN

An old enemy of Smoke Jensen has finished his prison term and been released. He’s planning vengeance. In the constantly evolving plan, the man kidnaps Sally and Pearlie’s girl friend to set a deadly trap, drawing a very angry group, Smoke, Cal, and Pearlie, in pursuit.

MATT JENSEN, THE LAST MOUNTAIN MAN: SAVAGE TERRITORY

Pogue Willis has killed his friend and Matt makes a promise to the dying man to take a poke of money to the brother. The trail leads to St. Louis and then back to Phoenix. He gets hooked up with a self-centered Eastern businessman and his wife. When she is taken by hostile Apaches, Matt sets out to rescue her.

THE LAST GUNFIGHTER: KILLING GROUND

Riding back into Buckskin with his son and daughter-in-law, Frank Howard was almost the victim of an assassin’s bullet. Arriving in town, he learned of Dex Brighton’s claim that he was the legal owner of Tip Woodford’s Lucky Lizard silver mine. A tough Easterner, he swears his father was an original partner with a paper claiming, since his father died after the partner, he owned the mine. He keeps trying to get a settlement before the judge arrives for the trial over the matter.
Another attempt is made on The Drifter’s life, the judge is killed in a stage hold-up, several tries are made on Frank’s lawyer’s life. Brighton has to be behind it, but there is no proof.

I may be talking through my hat, and I’m no expert of course, but I see three different styles in these five novels. Everyone seems extremely curious as to the identity of J. A. Johnstone. I not a big enough reader of current western authors to hazard a guess.
I think I will just enjoy each one as they come out. These are some of the best writing around these days.

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