Tuesday, May 11, 2021

An action snippet from The Templar Reprisals

I asked a friend if he had read The Templar Reprisals.  He explained that he preferred my Steve Dancy Tales. On further discussion, I discovered he had read none of The Best Thrillers. He insisted he only read shoot-em-ups. Well, this snippet from The Templar Reprisals is for him

“Trish, are you okay?”

“Yes, but I heard shots. Where are you?”

“Two cars ambushed me at our gate. Only one has given chase. The others may try to get through our security. Code Union. Understand?”


Trish became quiet, but he could hear heavy breathing. Good. That meant she was racing to their saferoom. He and Trish had set up Code Union to mean race for their saferoom which was hidden in the master suite.

Early in his police career he had advised the wealthy on home security. Now, he was among the rich, so he had a state-of-the-art system. They lived on an outcropping in the San Ynez Mountains, and the only access was a serpentine road that twisted away from Santa Barbara. After a couple squealing turns, Evarts heard Trish say she was in. He ended the call. She was safe.

Now, how to deal with these assholes behind him?

He suddenly tapped the brakes and then accelerated, repeating the process several times. As he slowed, he hoped it looked like he had run out of gas. The chase car came barreling on. When it was fifty feet away, Evarts slammed on the brakes, coming to a complete stop, then put it in reverse and punched it. He aimed right at the chase car. To avoid a crash, the car swerved to the center of the road. Evarts swung the back of his pickup to meet the pursuit car’s right front bumper. The sedan was no match for the heavy truck. The off-center hit spun the sedan and sent it flying into the low brush off the road. Evarts broke hard, unsnapped his seatbelt, and as he threw open his truck door, pulled his Glock .40 handgun. Before the pursuing car came to a rest, Evarts was racing toward the car.

Not fast enough.

Two men flew out of the car. Both with guns. Evarts shot the driver before he could raise his weapon. The assailant on the passenger side rested his gun on the roof of the sedan and fired three shots. Evarts had already dived to the ground. He rolled twice and got to his knees opposite the driver’s wide-open door. Firing through the car, Evarts shot the second assailant twice in the stomach, then snapped to his full height to shoot over the roof. He put a single shot into the head of the assailant.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Katey Jo Gordon Wins “Ultimate Cowboy Showdown” on INSP

From INSP press release: 

Katey Jo Gordon is a fifth-generation cowboy who has competed in rodeos from the tender age of two and won her first competition when she was only five years old. Over the years, she earned a rodeo scholarship, and her triumphs riding on the rodeo circuit have reached the hundreds, with no signs of slowing down. Originally from New Mexico, Katey Jo now resides in Ryan, Oklahoma, and works alongside her husband and father on the family’s cattle ranch.

Katey Jo, a former U.S. Team Roping and American Junior Rodeo Champion.

 INSP is a fun channel dedicated to Western culture.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Templar Reprisals now available in hardcover, trade paperback, and Kindle!


Book #3 in The Best Thrillers

To escape a deadly attack in Paris, a small-town police chief and his wife kill two terrorists.  This fateful clash draws them into a centuries-old feud between two secret societies. Returning to America, they discover the incident has followed them home. To survive, they must figure out who has endangered their lives and hometown.

Order today from Amazon!

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Larry McMurtry 84 Dies—Author of Lonesome Dove


Lonesome Dove is one of my favorite novels and my favorite mini-series. You notice I didn’t qualify my statement by writing western novel or western mini-series. That’s because Larry McMurtry was a great writer, without any need for qualification. Writing is a craft, storytelling an art. Stories that live through multiple generations are not only compelling narratives but also are crafted to never take the reader out of the story with poor grammar, meaningless cul-de-sacs, bombast, or dullness.

“When a book, any sort of book, reaches a certain intensity of artistic performance it becomes literature. That intensity may be a matter of style, situation, character, emotional tone, or idea, or half a dozen other things. It may also be a perfection of control over the movement of a story similar to the control a great pitcher has over a ball.” Raymond Chandler

McMurtry was a master storyteller in complete control of his craft. That’s why I found the New York Times obituary disappointing. Although condescension drips from the obituary writer, some of that disappointment came from McMurtry’s quotes. A western is a western. Period. There are no anti-westerns. Only good stories presented smoothly with great characterizations or flawed stories carelessly written with flat characters. For the most part McMurtry did the former and on occasion soared to greatness.

New York Times Obituary: Larry McMurtry, Novelist of the American West, Dies at 84

Larry McMurtry, a prolific novelist and screenwriter who demythologized the American West with his unromantic depictions of life on the 19th-century frontier and in contemporary small-town Texas, died on Thursday at home in Archer City, Texas. He was 84.

Mr. McMurtry wrote “Lonesome Dove” as an anti-western, a rebuke of sorts to the romantic notions of dime-store novels and an exorcism of the false ghosts in the work of writers like Louis L’Amour. “I’m a critic of the myth of the cowboy,’’ he told an interviewer in 1988. “I don’t feel that it’s a myth that pertains, and since it’s a part of my heritage I feel it’s a legitimate task to criticize it.’’

Why must any author apologize for writing westerns. It not like there’s no junky poetry, crummy detective stories, yawn-inspiring historical novels, or utterly boring slice-of-life attempts at a literary masterpiece. Only a few authors in any genre have the skill to rise above the chaff to give the public an awe-inspiring venture into another time and place.

In another paragraph, the obituary writer uses a single word at the start to diminish an entire genre of literature. Yet! Like it’s surprising that a western author might know his craft or be friends with proper intellectuals.

Yet Mr. McMurtry was a plugged-in man of American letters. For two years in the early 1990s he was American president of PEN, the august literary and human rights organization. He was a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, where he often wrote on topics relating to the American West. His friends included the writer Susan Sontag, whom he once took to a stock car race.

Readers became friends with McMurtry's characters. We knew them. We cared about them. We cried at their misfortune. That is a skill reserved to the very few. May he rest in peace.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Templar Reprisals Sample Chapter

 Chapter 1

Now available for preorder.

The Warrior Monks are Back!
Paris had lost much of its charm. Greg Evarts started to express his disenchantment with their favorite city but decided to keep his mouth shut. There was no reason to dampen his wife’s enthusiasm.

She shook her head. “I can’t believe they ruined my city.”

“It’s not ruined,” he consoled.

“It’s no longer magical. In my book that’s the same as ruined.”

“Trish, you don’t really mean that.”

They were strolling across Pont Neuf to the Sequana restaurant on Île de la Cité island. Early for their reservation, they detoured into a bastion. Originally, the series of bastions had been designed so pedestrians could get out of the way of large carriages. Now they served as observation points to view the River Seine. They leaned against the stone railing and Patricia Baldwin hooked her arm through his as they watched the dinner cruise ships float gently up and down the river. Evening light played off the rippling water and they could hear faint dreamy music in the distance. It was perfect.

“You’re right, I didn’t mean it,” she said.

Evarts smiled and put his hand on her forearm.

“I do miss the Paris of my college years, though,” she said.

“It’s still here. You just have to look harder.”

“Greg, we’ve been looking for two days. So far, we’ve only spotted an echo. The Middle East attire and the forest of selfie-sticks bother me, but the soldiers are truly off-putting. How can the most romantic city in the world maintain its reputation with dead-serious soldiers marching everywhere in urban formations.”

“We’ve been visiting tourist attractions. Unfortunately, they’ve become targets for terrorism. You’ve got to admit the district around our hotel is Parisian to the core.”

“A pricy hotel in a niche district. That’s not the Paris of my youth.”

Evarts squeezed her forearm, saying nothing. He didn’t want to argue. Not this evening. This was their anniversary, and four years of marriage had taught him that when his wife’s mood turned sour, say nothing, but give verbal or physical feedback to show he was listening. It worked. She smiled and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

Originally built in 1607, Pont Neuf was the oldest standing bridge crossing the Seine and had a reputation as a meeting place for lovers. Île de la Cité was the birthplace of Paris and in those early days, the bridge served as the hub of the city. At that time, it was clogged with vendors, street entertainers, and petty criminals. Benjamin Franklin found the bridge so seedy that he refused to walk across it. Now the bridge had been cleared of people earning a living, licit or otherwise.

 It was quiet. It was peaceful. It was romantic. A picture perfect summer evening in Paris and they were positioned perfectly to enjoy the twilight. Evarts felt inner contentment.

A horrific scream. A woman’s. Then a chorus of screams. Men and women. People in a panic ran toward them. What the hell was happening? Something terrifying! Something right behind this herd of screaming people. Evarts grabbed Baldwin’s arm and jerked her to his other side so his body could shield her from the mob. He felt her pull him away from the charging hoard, but instinct caused him to resist. He swiveled around to examine the other direction when he heard automatic gunfire come from the Right Bank.

Damn! They were in the middle of a terrorist attack.

He pulled Baldwin below the stone railing.

People ran. People screamed. Evarts heard glass shatter, horns blasting, and the crash of metal against metal as cars slammed on their brakes or hit the gas. Tranquility had instantly turned into chaos.

Soon, their alcove started to fill with people trying to escape the hail of bullets. This was a two-pronged attack. One or more terrorists on the Left Bank had done something to chase people toward gunmen on the Right Bank.

Evarts thought fast.

If the gunmen marching across the bridge had plenty of ammunition, they would soon reach their bastion. He heard three or four automatic rifles. He wasn’t going to wait to be murdered.

“We’re going away from the gunfire!” Evarts screamed over the noise.

Baldwin immediately nodded.

Holding hands, they scurried around the perimeter of the bastion until they were on the edge that led toward the Left Bank.

He waited until he heard the gunfire lighten. At least some of the shooters were changing magazines.

He yelled, “Now!”

They ran as if the Devil himself was behind them. After a couple of strides, Evarts pulled his wife in a weaving pattern. He was scared. He became more frightened when he heard all the guns start up again. As he ran, he scanned the bridge in front of him. People were panicked. They stopped running away from whatever was behind them but couldn’t make the decision to reverse course. Most fell to the ground or dove toward one of the bastions. None ran with him. What was he heading toward?

As his visibility up the bridge walkway cleared, he gasped. Ahead were two blood covered men wielding curved swords. He scanned the area between him and the nearest terrorist. No weapons. Not a rock or brick or even an umbrella. He let go of his wife’s hand and never broke stride as he picked up a selfie-stick. He collapsed the stick and ripped off the swivel end as he ran.

The nearest terrorist charged, screaming.

Evarts feinted a block with the selfie-stick, but then veered and ducked under the swing of the sword. He thrust the selfie-stick upward into the throat of the terrorist. Evarts felt the jagged, broken end dig deeply into the terrorist’s neck. As both hands went to his throat, the terrorist dropped the sword.

The second assailant came fast, sword held high for a killing blow. Too fast for Evarts to pick up the discarded sword. He braced his legs to jump to the side when he heard his wife yell.

“Arrête ou je tire!”

The harsh scream carried all the authority of a policeman. The command to stop or I’ll shoot worked. The second terrorist turned and started to charge her until he saw no weapon in her hand.

He returned his attention to Evarts. Too late. Evarts had retrieved the sword from the ground and had already begun his swing.

Evarts used every muscle in his body as he slashed a crosscut against his opponent’s body. The downward driving force ripped through the upper ribs on a slant and almost came out at the hips.

He didn’t hesitate. He grabbed Baldwin’s hand and ran like hell for the Left Bank.

Honest stories filled with dishonest characters.

Friday, March 12, 2021

The Templar Reprisals Available for Preorder

The Templar Reprisals

Book Three in the Best Thriller Series

The warrior monks are back.
To escape a deadly attack in Paris, a small-town police chief and his wife kill two terrorists.  This fateful clash draws them into a centuries-old feud between two secret societies. Returning to America, they discover the incident has followed them home. To survive, they must figure out who has endangered their lives and hometown.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Over 100,000 Steve Dancy Tales Sold!


Honest westerns filled with dishonest characters.

More precisely, Steve Dancy sales have reached 100,455. I wish they had all been in February, but that's a cumulative total for many years. (1,436 books sold in February.) The Shopkeeper has also reached 700 Amazon customer reviews for 4.4 stars. The series has 1,495 Amazon customer reviews for 4.5 stars. 

Thank you to all my readers. 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Christmas Shopping? No Worries.

If Christmas shopping has you flummoxed, I have a suggestion. Actually, it’s the same suggestion I make every year about this time … gives books for Christmas. You can shop from your dining room, match the taste of the recipient, and accommodate their preference for print, e-book, audio, or large print. You can even write a personal note on the flysheet that won’t get thrown out with the Christmas cards.

Everyone has special interests and most people enjoy a book that lets them delve into their hobby, sport, or another world while sitting in the den with their feet up.

Match your recipient’s special interest with a unique book and your extra thought will show you cared. Here are a few book categories on Amazon.

And this is just a sampling. You can find books on nearly any subject. This doesn't mean you need to buy online. You can shop in the comfort of your home and then support your local independent bookstore by buying or ordering there. That would be a neat flip on people who rifle through a bookstore and surreptitiously buy their books with a smartphone.

A book is better than an electronic gadget that will be obsolete before the next holiday season rolls around. It’s safer than clothing that may not fit your loved one’s taste. A book can be displayed on an open shelf, as opposed to a kitchen appliance that might end up behind a cupboard door to be forgotten. Best of all, a book is simple to have shipped across the country or the border.

Of course I have a bias for books … especially if you choose to give one of my books. You can make the recipient happy and me happy. What could be better than that?

Honest stories. Filled with dishonest characters.