14 July 2013

Review: The Devil's Work by Paul Bedford

Being an ex Black Horse Western writer, I tend to keep an occasional eye on this UK imprint (publisher Robert Hale), the last of a dying breed, and recently an old name surfaced - Paul Bedford.

One of his first novels - a true historical rather than Western genre - was passed on to me some time ago, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. A Most Dark and Bloody Land by his alternative author name Paul Ayton, is set in 1844 with a young British Army Officer, Thomas Collins, being sent out from Her Majesty's government to the fledgling Republic of Texas. He's to negotiate terms with President Samuel Houston for the British Empire's procurement of cotton. Sound far-fetched? Not a bit of it, as Paul Ayton emphasises in the book's Historical Note.

For some reason Paul eschews a digital footprint of his own, but the cover, and that of two sequels A Most Deadly Foe and A Most Damnable Campaign, can be found via the site of Western re-enactment group The Searchers.

So when I heard that he'd had a Western genre novel accepted by Robert Hale, I called in to my local library and asked if they'd consider purchasing it. The Black Horse Westerns have always, as far as I am aware, been destined for the library market, and I saw no reason why others shouldn't enjoy good writing in a genre mostly ignored. 

As can be seen, Robert Hale doesn't believe in going overboard with its covers, but don't let that detract from a good read. 

When town marshal Rance Toller is called to a gun-toting drunk in the town's worst saloon, he notices a stranger biding his time in the warmth. Experience tells Toller that the quiet man poses the bigger threat. Not so. Greed, lies and betrayal pose the biggest threat of all and, while away in the snow helping the widow of a murdered homesteader, the town of Devil's Lake decides what's in its best interest might not include Rance Toller.

It's a cracking read in the classic style of Western that the imprint maintains. Go order it at your local library and spread the experience. As ever, more information can be found on Amazon.