Saturday, 17 May 2008

LADIGAN BY lance Howard

historical data
Published by Black Horse Westers (Robert Hale)
hardcover isbn 070907722-x
original price £10.75
originally published 2005

Lance Howard is the pen name of American writer Howard Hopkings who writes regularly for the Black Horse westerns imprint. Follow the link to the authors web site and the great online pulp magazine he publishes.

John Ladigan is a manhunter, a gun for hire, who recieves a mysterious telegram from his journalist brother summoning him to the Colorado town of Timmervale.

As soon as Ladigan arrives in the town he walks straight into trouble with Jack Timm who is beating up on an whore while the terrified town citizens stand by. Ladigan interfears, stopping the sadistic Timm, who just happens to be the son of the brutal Soloman Timm.

The violence in the opening chapter is very graphic and owes a lot to the excesses of the Italian westerns, but it's written well and the author's grip of character is superb so that the reader is sucked into the story from the get go. The whore, Prilla immediately gets our sympathy and we find ourselves rooting for her as the sexually hung up Timm beats up on her. She is a strong character and rings true to the nineteenth century setting but it is with John Ladigan that the story starts to live on the page. He is an enigmatic character - part lone ranger, part Eastwoodesque drifter, a part hard boiled detective.

The story, far from being a simple horse opera soon takes several devilish turns as murder and mystery deepens and the author does a skilled job at keeping us tearing through the pages until the final bloody denouncement.

This is a great page turner and proves that the western tradition is very much alive and kicking. Check out the other books in the Black Horse western range by following the link above.

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