The author is pretty well known in western fiction circles but the average UK book buyer would likely not have heard of him, and it is the job of blogs like The Tainted Archive to spread the word far and wide. Indeed the western as a literary genre is not as vibrant as it once was, though with eBooks things are improving and these days it's easy to get hold of a new western book or a much sought after reprint, with just one click of a mouse. New digital publishing houses like Piccadilly Publishing are bringing both classic and new westerns into digital print, the Edge series by George Gilman is once again easily available and new imprints, many run by authors, seem to be springing up every day. There's never been a better time to be a western fan, - or a fan of any kind of what was once called mid-list fiction, for that matter.
Back let go back and climb Blood Mountain - The story starts off in brutal fashion with a young girl wandering away from the band of settlers she travels with, and meeting up with a group of vicious outlaws. She is savagely beaten and raped by the men. She survives though and finds her way back to the settlers but a young man who has a crush on the girl sneaks out of camp and slits the throat of one of the outlaws. This puts the settlers in great danger as the outlaws dog their every move and seem to be toying with them.However the settlers visit the ranch of Nordstrom, a grizzled westerner who knows how to handle a gun, and soon the rancher is drawn into the battle with the outlaws.
The author manages to create real suspense and the reader finds themselves rooting for the settlers, who it often seems are going to be picked off one by one, but rancher Nordstrom is not a man who will allow the outlaws to have their own way. The book builds to a climax that occupies almost the last quarter of the book and it really does become nail biting. I bloody enjoyed this book and will be reading much more of Brandvold. He creates a West that seems totally authentic but owes much to the classic Hollywood westerns. The happy ending for instance is very much 1950's Hollywood western, but that's not a criticism, far from it. Excellent.