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Thursday, 15 April 2010

A COFFIN FOR SANTA ROSA BY STEVE HAYES


A Coffin for Santa Rosa
Steve Hayes
Black Horse Westerns
First published 2009

Author Steve Hayes was previously interviewed by The Archive in Jan 2010 - A Coffin for Santa Rosa was his third Black Horse title, and like his previous two westerns it is a cracking read, expertly written but then given the author's background as a TV writer in the US, often contributing stories to some of our best remembered shows How the West Was Won and High Chaparral to name but two, this shouldn't come as a surprise. Steve's even collaborated with the great Sam Peckinpah.

Perhaps it is due to the skills learnt in episodic television (the need to tell an entire story on a limited canvas) that gives this book such effortless pacing. And it is paced well - right from the first page I was hooked and kept turning pages until the early hours. In fact I read this book in one sitting, unable to put it down until I'd turned the last page. I'm in awe of Steve Hayes and if my own westerns are even half as good as this guy then I'll be one happy chappie.

It's an off-beat plot - Gabriel Moonlight promises Ingrid Bjorkman that he will see to it that she is buried next to her husband in Santa Rosa. It is the dying woman's wish but knowing that Gabriel is wanted in New Mexico she makes him promise that he will hire a Pinkerton to deliver her mortal remains. However Gabriel decides to take the body himself and together with the woman's daughter, Raven he sets off on what will be a hazardous journey.

Steve came to novel writing after a lifetime spent writing for film and TV - he can name drop like no-one else, but then who could blame him when he counted Louis L'amour, Errol Flynn and Alan Ladd among his personal friends? I've not doubt though that had Steve started writing novels a few decades earlier he would have been up there with the likes of L'amour and Elmer Kelton - A Coffin for Santa Rosa is that good, as good as anything published in the western field.

Nuff said - I loved it.

1 comment:

Chap O'Keefe said...

I avoid reviewing per se, but I will say I found the books of the Gabriel Moonlight trilogy among the most memorable of recent BHWs. And Steve is a great guy! Don't miss the other two titles: Gun for Revenge and Packing Iron.

And while we're on the topic of value in BHWs, don't forget that halebooks.com has a Special Offer running till April 30: It's 35% off four selected titles, including Misfit Lil Robs the Bank. In UK money that's only £8.45 for a handsome hardcover book normally selling for £12.99. End of commercials!