Monday, April 8, 2013

Review Roundup: The Luck of the Draw

Only one review this week, gang. It seems “events” conspired against me recently. (“Events” will pay for bracing the wrong outlaw.)


Raw Deal at Pasco Springs
By Clay More
Ulverscroft, May 2005
$10.95 paperback, ISBN 1843957752
The Western Fictioneers Library, February 2013
$2.99 Kindle, ASIN B00BDBZEHO
240 pages

Lawman-turned-gambler Tom Mallory knows Lady Luck can be a fickle mistress. He doesn’t realize how fickle until winning a ranch in a poker game puts him in the crosshairs of a mysterious bushwhacker, saddles him with the troubled family of the ranch’s previous owner, and lands him right back where he least wants to be: behind a badge. Someone covets Mallory’s land enough to kill everyone who gets in the way. And wouldn’t you know it? Lady Luck has decided to sit out this game.

Originally published by UK publisher Robert Hale Ltd. in 2004, Raw Deal at Pasco Springs is a rollicking, old-fashioned western shoot-em-up that stampedes through the reader’s imagination. Despite his less-than-stellar history and his frowned-upon current occupation, Mallory is the type of stand-up guy readers can’t help loving. The citizens of Pasco Springs are equally entertaining, from the curmudgeonly blacksmith to the competing saloon owners, the tough-as-nails widow and her wastrel stepson, the shady banker, the kind-hearted doc, the reclusive miner, the subtly dangerous cattle baron, and an assortment of thugs.

Author Clay More does an excellent job of herding readers through the story. Every turn of the cards reveals a new twist in the slippery plot. Characters drop like flies, felled in increasing numbers by whichever one of them is pulling the strings behind the scenes. The ending fairly explodes in a forehead-slapping revelation that will have even seasoned mystery readers asking “Why didn’t I see that coming? All the clues were right there on the page.”

In the grand tradition of classic westerns, Raw Deal at Pasco Springs is pure escapist fun. Add the deftly plotted mystery-suspense element and More's typical attention to historical detail, and the book is tough to put down. Kudos to the Western Fictioneers Library for making this gem from across the pond available to digital readers worldwide.


Kathleen Rice Adams is a Texan, a voracious reader, a professional journalist, and a novelist in training. She received a review copy of Raw Deal at Pasco Springs from the publisher. Her opinions are her own and are neither endorsed nor necessarily supported by Western Fictioneers or individual members of the organization.

20 comments:

  1. Kathleen, it seems that "events" have been conspiring for many of us these days. SIGH. We are always happy to have whatever you are able to get done, and appreciate your reviews!

    Clay More is one of my very favorite authors. Thanks for this great review! Another book to go on my list...You're paying me back, aren't you, Tex?

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  2. I am embarrassed to admit that I haven't read anything by Clay More (Keith Souter). After reading your fine review, Kathleen, I plan to correct that shortcoming very soon.

    Jim Meals

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  3. I enjoy your reviews for they allow me enough information to decide if I want to read a book, and yet not so much that it spoils the ones I do decide to read. Yes, another onto the To Be Read pile. Doris

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  4. Thank you for the kind review, Kathleen. It is always a bit nerve-racking when a book is reviewed.

    Keith

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  5. Thanks Jim and Doris. Hope you enjoy it.

    Keith

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  6. Keith, this book was so much fun. Fun is important to me in a read. Pasco Springs is the first book-length work of yours I've read, but I guarantee it won't be the last. I think I left a permanent dent in my forehead with the slap I delivered at "the big reveal." And the characters were just outstanding. :-)

    Cheryl: Yes'm, I'm payin' you back for all those books you've made me buy because your recommendations were irresistable. :-P

    Jim, give Keith's stories a try. It's amazing to me the man is a denizen of the UK and yet represents the Old West with such aplomb. :-)

    Doris, it's always so good to hear from you! I hope I'll never steer you wrong for that TBR pile. If yours is like mine, it's completely out of control. :-D

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    1. So sorry about the forehead pain, Kathleen. With my other hat on, people come to me for advice on getting rid of headaches! Never thought of myself as a cause of them.

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  7. Kathleen, I've already read some of Keith's work, since he and I worked together on Wolf Creek: Bloody Trail. Great man to work with. It's not that I don't intend to read Keith and a lot more authors, in fact there's a ton of books loaded into my Kindle program, but time is the problem. All I need is an eight day week and thirty-six hour days and I'd be fine.

    Jim Grifin

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  8. Boy howdy, do I understand that, Jim! Although, come to think about it, I'm sure extra hours and days would have an irritating tendency to fill up with the stuff we DON'T want to do. :-\

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  9. Kathleen, your comments have me charged up. This book is on my must read list for sure.
    Jerry

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    1. You are a gentleman, as always, Jerry.
      Keith

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  10. Keith. Wonder what it would be like to have a "Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde in the West" novel.

    charlie

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  11. Now you've got me thinking, Charlie. Maybe one day.

    Keith

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  12. Oh man... and another great book is stacked on the TBR pile! Sounds fabulous!

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    1. Thank you Meg. And I really appreciate Kathleen's kind review

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  13. I'm late to the party again, but I just wanted to let you know how helpful and fun your reviews are, Tex. And Keith, I've been eyeing this book since the Western Fictioneers Library announced it. Looking forward to the new one out, too.

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    1. Thank you, Jacquie. I like Kathleen's reviews, too. It made me want to read the book myself!

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  14. LIke some others, I have not read any Clay More Keith Souter yarns. Reckon I'm goin' to have to rectify that. If Kathleen is all het up about it. I better do it.

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