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Friday, 6 August 2010


This is one of the westerns from that group of prolific authors known as The Piccadilly Cowboys -the name Charles C. Garrett was used by both Angus Wells and Laurance James and given that this book is dedicated to Angus then I'm assuming Laurance James was behind this one. Then again they could have worked together, as I believe was often a case with the two men.

This is actually the fifth book in the Gunslinger series which ran to ten titles - like most of the Piccadilly Cowboy titles the book is fast paced, extremely violent and laced with black humour.  The book also contains several nods to western fans - at one point John Ryker states that he once knew a soldier named Nathan Brittles who didn't like it when men apologised. This is clearly a reference to John Wayne' character in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. And  a major part of the plot involves Ryker being kidnapped by Walter Brennan's gang.

"I once met a Cavalry officer. Name of Nathan Brittles. Tough as old leather. Used to say than a man should never apologise, that it was a sign of weakness."

The group of writers known as the Piccadilly Cowboys would develop into a sort of social club, with the writers often meeting for a drink. And George G. Gilman (Terry Harknett) and Laurence James were particularly good friends. Perhaps the writer of this book was giving his buddy a nod when Gilman's famous character, Edge sort of turns up in this one.

" The man had been on leave from the civil war. A tall, lean man, who carried a razor in a leather pouch at the back of his neck. He'd said to Ryker that hot afternoon, two years back: 'Don't be frightened of dying. Be frightened of death. Death means you can't get revenge.'."

Arizona Bloodline then is a fast paced read - it crackles with energy and John Ryker makes for a compelling hero. I sort of half rememberd this series from my youth and I'm most certainly be checking out the online sites and the market stalls for the other nine titles in the series.


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