The Steve Dancy Tales
Honest westerns ... filled with dishonest characters.

Star Democrat, Mr. Know-it-All Column

"James D. Best the author has written at least six books, including the Steve Dancy Western novels: The Shopkeeper, Leadville and Murder at Thumb Butte. I couldn't agree with you more about the series. I read them and enjoyed them immensely." —Gary Clothier


True West Magazine, March, 2012

"The James Best books...are about the best new Western series to come along since Larry McMurtry."—Larry Winget

BookViews—September Picks of the Month

"James D. Best is arguably one of the best writers of westerns." —Alan Caruba

"If you are a fan of great westerns from authors like Louis L'Amour and Larry McMurtry, then you need to get on board with James Best and the Steve Dancy series. Great stories, interesting and diverse characters and plenty of action! I have enjoyed every one of them and The Return is a terrific addition to the series. My only complaint is that they don't come fast enough! I can't wait for the next one and hope it comes soon!" "—Larry Winget, The Pitbull of Personal Development

Buddies in the Saddle: Top 10 Frontier Fiction for 2013
The Shopkeeper
This is an old-fashioned western in a way that goes back to the western’s roots. For the closest comparison, I’d offer Francis Lynde’s first novel, The Grafters.

"This series is comprised of six books, and I’ve read the first three so far. I’m completely hooked... James D. Best is one of my new favorite authors. I highly recommend this well-written and entertaining series!" Glorianne Muggli at Miligero


A Steve Dancy Tale

The Shopkeeper

Woman's Day
"I have to say its one of the best western books I’ve read in a long time. It took me back about 125 years. The characters, the plot, everything seem so real. You’ll find yourself lost in the book—the fast pace keeps it interesting." — Maritza Barone

Western Writers of America
"This is a fast paced tale with an interesting hero. In structure, with short chapters, crisp dialogue, and lots of movement, it’s reminiscent of a thriller."— Round Up Magazine, August, 2008

Slap Bookleather
"The Shopkeeper is good.  Really good.  There are a couple of neat plot twists in the story, so I won’t say much about the plot, but rest assured it is highly entertaining."

Western Fiction Review
"With all the plot developments the story has a natural fast pace and before I knew it I had reached the end, leaving me wanting to read the next in the series."

Saline River Chronicle

"This is a compelling narrative and as good as the best of classic Westerns. James D. Best is a name to remember."

Nashville Examiner
"The Shopkeeper is quick and fun to read, perfect for a vacation escape." Diane Scearce

Buddies in the Saddle

"The Shopkeeper is one heck of a novel ... you might call it a thinking reader’s western. Its cast of characters is easy to believe in, and the storytelling is taut and well polished. Complications are neatly and plausibly resolved after many pages of suspenseful tension."

Blogger News Network
"I have to admit that the Wild West and Western books as a whole are not generally speaking my favorite genre. Occasionally though, one is released that breaks the mold and genuinely stands out as a great work of fiction. I put The Shopkeeper in that lofty position."Simon Barrett

Powerful Reviews

"One of the series of books that has been catching good reviews have been the Steve Dancy series. The story has a very fast pace, the hero has a duality about him sometimes being the villian as well. But he manages to produce the goods in taking out numerous bad guys."

'Bout Books

"It is a very good western to pick up and read.  The writing is clear and straight forward with plenty of action attached. For an entertaining read, The Shopkeeper draws high marks."T. Akery

Book Eats
"The prose is decidedly and artfully simply, and I’d argue that the story reveals itself more like a detective novel than a typical western. Steve Dancy just gets us."

Cats and a Book

"The Shopkeeper is quick and fun to read, perfect for a vacation escape."

The Book or Bust

"Strong writing, but not overdone. From the first page: 'Richard's three of hearts was in mid-flight when a distant gunshot froze everything but the floating card."—Melissa Romo

Book Advice

"The story is engaging. I enjoy Best's style of writing, and it's a quick read."

2 Kids and Tired Books

"A gentleman who prefers books and cards with friends, Steve inadvertently finds himself a gunslinger embroiled in a feud with a silver baron. Add a beautiful woman, hired killers and some early Nevada history and you have The Shopkeeper.  The story was fast paced and entertaining."

The Word that is Miss Spoken 

"The Shopkeeper is a page turner and James Best is a great story teller. The characters are well developed."

Fascinating Authors

"The plot moves rapidly among these monetary, political persons and action sequences in Pickhandle Gulch, Carson City, Virginia City."  John H. Manhold

Tulip Talk

"A really good story, even for someone who never really liked 'Westerns."

Insight Books

"You'll certainly find enough twists and turns to provide an entertaining and exciting story."

The IE Mommy

"I will definitely look at Western novels a bit differently now. The Shopkeeper opened my eyes and my realm of interest and I will be actively looking for more books by James D. Best."

Stonewall Grant

"The Shopkeeper did not disappoint. It's well written with deep characters and a swift plot that keeps the pages turning. Great dialogue and a well contrived plot."


"I found myself caught up in the story to the point that when I got to the last few chapters I abandoned all other plans for the day and just read until I finished the novel."


A Steve Dancy Tale

Western Writers of American, Roundup Magazine
"A novel of fast-paced adventure. But it's also a story of friendship and loyalty. Once again, Best has penned a fine read."—C. K. Crigger

“…even if I weren't living in Leadville, I'd still love this Wild West mystery adventure! Best's writing style is a romp, and he nails the dialogue. Two thumbs up!”

What Would The Founders Think?

"There is no fluff in this story, just straight-through action and good dialogue. Leadville is pure entertainment with great character development."

Cats and a Book

"Best's novels are rip-roaring good stories, with engaging plots, likable characters, and plenty of action. Dancy is tough, intelligent, and thoughtful, and his compatriots are respectable men of integrity."

2 Kids and Tired Books

"The story is exciting and fast-paced.  Gun fights and robberies, cowboys and Indians, horses and mining, friendship and loss.  The heroes are terrific and the bad guys aren't.  The adventure is entertaining."

Book and Bookstore

"I would highly recommend these two westerns to anyone with an imagination and curiosity about the history of our country. And besides, they are just excellent reading."


A Steve Dancy Tale

Murder at Thumb Butte

Western Writers of America Roundup Magazine
"This is a well-plotted mystery, as well as a terrific Old West story. Best has a great character in Steve Dancy, and has created an excellent cast of secondary characters." — C.K. Crigger

What Would The Founders Think?
"Best does a great job of weaving historic Prescott into the story with accurate depictions of well-known features like Whiskey Row, the court house, Gurley Street, and other famous locales in the historic town. The story itself is as good, if not better than the other two books in the series."

"When it comes to novels that evoke a fabled period, few do it better than Jim Best. Best is best at dialogue and his novels move along at a swift pace with some of the best dialogue you’ll find. Nothing fancy, but it reflects real people in real situations. Treat yourself to one or all three of the series." —Alan Caruba

The American Culture
"The Western mystery story is not as rare a phenomenon as you might think. The conventions of the mystery transfer pretty well to the Wild West, and many famous mystery writers cranked out westerns as well, back in the days when you could make a living writing for the pulps. Contemporary author James D. Best carries on this tradition with his Steve Dancy stories."

"Steve is a former gun shop owner from New York City, transferred to the west where, although his primary concern is business, he has made a reputation as a gunman. I thought this approach added freshness to the whole enterprise. We often forget that cowboys shared a country and a time with men like Thomas Edison and Cornelius Vanderbilt, but Steve Dancy straddles both worlds." —Lars Walker


The Return
The Return is a lively, old-fashioned style Western—clever, entertaining, and full of period references to give it authenticity. Best paces his stories so well readers will find it difficult to put down.” —Diane Scearce


"James D. Best is arguably one of the best writers of westerns, but his newest novel, The Return, featuring Steve Dancy, a character from several of his previous novels, is set in the East." —Alan Caruba

Western Writers of America, Round Up Magazine
Well-written, fast-paced, interesting characters—what more can a reader want?—C. K. Crigger


The Return, another Dancy story, is another well-written tale,” —Lars Walker

Western Fiction Review

This is the fourth book in James D. Best’s Steve Dancy series and once again Best proves that he has the ability to write fascinating and very entertaining stories.

The reader can be assured The Return is as fast-paced and entertaining as the books leading up to Dancy’s latest adventure. 


Jenny's Revenge

What Would The Founders Think?
"The story races along at break-neck speed and concludes with some surprising alliances and betrayals. Along the way, there are slimy politicians, crooked lawyers and lethal gunfighters."


Crossing the Animas

Roundup Magazine
"This sequel to the author's Steve Dancy series is as good as the come."

No Peace

Roundup Magazine
"This author pens a riveting story, every page brimming with action an suspense."

Constitutional convention

Tempest at Dawn

Larry Schweikart, Professor and Bestselling Author

"The best novel EVER on the U.S. Constitution."—Larry Schweikart, author A Patriot's History of the United States and over a dozen other history books

Beaufort Observer

"If you want to know the truth about the character of those gentlemen and you want to learn about the evolution of one of the greatest documents ever created by man---the Constitution of the United States---relax in your bed, favorite chair or recliner, and enjoy."—Allen Ball

What Would The Founders Think?

"Tempest at Dawn is an audacious undertaking that succeeds by giving texture and color not only to Roger Sherman and James Madison, but also to Gouverneur Morris, Robert Morris (unrelated to Gouverneur), Charles Pinckney, Ben Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton among others. The author’s ability to flesh out so many characters so effectively makes the book, which could easily have been dry and flavorless, sparkle with subtle verve and wit."—What Would The Founders Think?

Eutychus the Scribe

"Tempest at Dawn adhere closely to Madison’s notes when describing what occurred in the Assembly Room. But James Best uses the imagination of the novelist to construct what might have occurred in the taverns, salons, dining rooms and inns. He also draws on historical data to present us with the personalities of the major participants in the convention. The result is a readable, engaging story of the creation of our Constitution."

The Path to Tyranny
"Thanks to James Best’s masterpiece,Tempest at Dawn, I felt like the 56th delegate at the Constitutional Convention. Using vivid narrative and expressive dialogue, Tempest at Dawn presents all the major issues the Founding Fathers struggled with."Michael E. Newton


"The novel captures the real drama that ensued behind closed doors as they hammered out what is now the oldest living constitution and the foundation of the nation. Read it for its historical value. Read it for its dramatic value. But read it!"—Alan Caruba

On Transmigration

"The book brings our founders to life with great writing, historic accuracy and amazing wit."

Militant Reviews

"It’s a truly great read and is one of the few books I’ve picked up in the past year that I ended up reading more than 200 pages from in one sitting. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in our nation’s founding, the principals involved, and in great historical writing."


"Many a volume has been written about the writing of the Constitution. The Summer of 1787 and Tempest At  Dawn are two of the better volumes I have read on the subject."

Mike Reads
"I found this novel to be an interesting read.  I thoroughly enjoyed it."Mike Karus

40 Book Challenge Selbrede

"This book was absolutely fabulous. When you read, it makes you feel like you are the 56th delegate. If you want a terrific historical fiction book, I recommend you start with this one."


Abraham Lincoln

The Shut Mouth Society

Huntington News

"The Shut Mouth Society is a fast-moving, well-written novel that is of particular interest in this bicentennial year of Abe Lincoln's birth." David M. Kinchen

Book Advice
"The author has done an excellent job of building the story. I wanted to know more about the secret societies, more about the Sherman family, and more about the resolution."

A Writer's Journal

"The Shut Mouth Society by James D. Best is the kind of book I like best. The novel has everything from intrigue and murder to romance." Faith Friese Nelson

Enough With It

"I enjoyed the book the pace of the story ... it was a book I would enjoy reading again."

What Would the Founders Think?

"The Shut Mouth Society is a potboiler of the first order."

"This book kept me hooked and I hated to turn away from it unfinished."

Jack B. Rochester at
"The Shut Mouth Society was a great and unexpectedly satisfying read."



Best makes this a compelling—indeed frightening—story. This is a highly recommended natural disaster thriller, written with acute attention to reality and little, if any, needless melodramatics.

Lesson From the Origins of the American Republic

Principled Action

Lessons from the Origins of the American Republic


"There is no more important time to learn the how and why of the founding of our great republic. This highly readable book is a very good place to start." Alan Caruba

What Would The Founders Think?
"Principled Action provides an excellent analysis of the American Founding and what made it unique. However, it also provides considerable insight into the motivations of the current grass-roots movement for a return to constitutionalism."


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