Friday, October 5, 2007

Saddlebums Review: Peace at Any Price by Chap O'Keefe

Jim Hunter and Matt Harrison are best friends and the owners of the once-thriving Double H ranch in Trinity Creek, Texas. Their cowpunchers have heeded the call of the Civil War and now they are trying to keep the enterprise afloat in lean times. It does not help that the Double H’s cattle is a frequent target for rustlers and that the sole remaining member of their crew is disabled Mexican-American War veteran Walter Burridge.

When the raiders take their pillaging a step further and burn the ranch to the ground, killing Old Walt in the process, the partners have no option but to leave the area and look for a job in the nearby port city of Brownsville. Matt and Jim soon realize that the war has also exerted its toll on the once-busy border town as work is hard to come by. Matt, a Union sympathizer, joins the Northern Army while the pro-Confederacy Jim chooses to stick around. He soon hooks up with the sensuous Lena-Marie Baptiste and her brother Raoul whom, among other business ventures, smuggle guns for the southern forces.

Peace at Any Price by Chap O’Keefe is the quintessential action-packed Western and as such it seems to fit right in with the rest of the Black Horse Western (BHW) line. Sparsely written and at times frantically-paced, it introduces the characters with a few broad strokes and then wastes no time in pitting them against all sorts of challenges. Jim returns from the war but the Double H and Trinity Creek no longer feel like home, not in the least because his former darling Alice Cornhill has married someone else in the interim. Fate leads him right back to the Baptistes, their dubious business concerns and a face-to-face encounter with the ruthless Woodson Waldrop, the man he suspects burnt down the Double H.

In this age of bloated techno-thrillers and three-page chapters designed not to upset MTV-addled attention spans, Peace at Any Price is a refreshing story that delivers genuine, non-stop entertainment. Its rhythm might play against itself at times and perhaps the climactic ending – involving a mandatory shootout, a damsel in distress and a catastrophic natural disaster – could have been resolved in less haste. Nonetheless, this is a highly recommended yarn that can only lead the Western reader to ask himself why BHW titles are for the most unavailable in the American market. Published since 1986 by Robert Hale Ltd. with a packaging and glossy covers that are almost as attractive as their action-oriented storylines, this is a line that provides a venue for many authors that are not only talented and passionate about Westerns, but well worth the effort to track down.

18 comments:

Pat said...

It does sound like a good read. Is there really no way to get Black Horses other than paying $20 or more per title via Amazon, B&N, etc.?

Anonymous said...

Pat,
You have several choices:
1. Bite the bullet. The publisher does sell recent titles at a discount to amazon, but postage charges tot he US will still make it a hefty charge.
2. Badger your local library (and keep on badgering 'em) to stock them or their LP reprints Linford Westerns.
3. Go second-hand - with eBay or second-hand online retailers. I just did a quick enquiry at one such place abebooks.com and they had several ex-library copies available for a few dollars. That'll give you a starting taste.

Anonymous said...

A good way of buying BHWs is direct from the author. Sometimes they sell spare copies of books they have written. I have bought BHWs from Lance Howard and Ian Parnham and they were really cheap, and signed as well. (Lance Howard actually lives in America so you even get the cheap postage rates and if you look on Amazon.co.uk, Ian sells his for just a few pounds each (trading under the name western47.) I dont know about the other authors, but if you look at their websites, they probably do as well.)

Catherine

Anonymous said...

Chap O'Keefe isn't in the bookselling business. Peace at Any Price is currently available at the www.halebooks.com site at the special, pre-order discount price of £7.87. How cheap can a new, hot-off-the-press, handsomjely produced book get? They don't take the money till they send the book and they'll ship worldwide.

Chap O'Keefe said...

No, I don't sell books as such. But I hope I can say I do "sell" them by producing a satisfactory story that leaves the reader keen to read another! I also promote books across the BHW range at Black Horse Extra . . . my "free" contribution to the western fiction cause.

I don't sell books for several reasons, including time and the following:

The agreement I sign with the publisher says (clause 10): "The Author shall receive on publication six presentation copies of the said novel and shall be entitled to purchase further copies for personal use but not for resale at trade price."

Even if I was inclined to break the contract, or ask for a dispensation, freighting the books to New Zealand, where I have lived for many years, then mailing most of them back across the planet to readers' private addresses, would be a prohibitive cost, unless the publisher had sold the books to the author for pence as unsold remainders.

The two Chap O'Keefe books published so far this year, Sons and Gunslicks and Misfit Lil Fights Back, are both out of stock at the publisher's warehouse. The Lil book, third in a series, was unavailable from Hale just seventeen days after publication -- that is, it was on sale for less time than the latest issue of a monthly magazine!

I would suggest anyone who really wants Peace at Any Price goes to the Hale website today and places an order at their very generous discount price of £7.87, which is nearly £4 off the full price.

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Chap O'Keefe said...
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Gonzalo Baeza said...

Ok, let's end this exchange right here. From now on, let's take any and all personal disputes elsewhere. I would hate to start moderating this blog but this is not a forum to air personal grievances. Thanks.

Alaska said...

Since we are talking about selling a horse, click on 'ponies for sale'. If you are wanting to sell something other than a horse, you can come back to this page later and list it then.

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