Saturday, 8 February 2020

Two Guns to Apache Wells (Shane and Jonah #2)

Author: Cole Shelton (aka Roger Norris-Green)
First Published: 1978(?)
File size/Pages: 3253kb / 110pp
Ebook Publisher: Piccadilly Publishing
Ebook Date: December 2019

Back in October 2019, I had fully intended to read all three of the first installments of Piccadilly Publishing's new release roster. But due to my terrible habit of being distracted by the lure of a new book (rather than sticking with the ones in my 'to be read' pile) I only got around to reading the opening book in Cole Shelton's series of stories featuring Shane Preston and Jonah Jones. My review of that book can be read here, and I was very surprised and honoured to have the author himself (Roger Norris-Green) comment on the Piccadilly Publishing Facebook page. Book 2 came out at the end of 2019, and I had already pre-purchased it based upon the opening book, Gun Law at Hangman's Creek. After finding myself having to abandon a rather unengaging book I was planning on reviewing, I wanted to quickly get into something I knew I'd be happy with - so I'm glad to be here with a review of Two Guns to Apache Wells.

I'll start off by saying this ebook has a much nicer piece of art on the cover. I didn't like the first cover, but this one is a lot better. I'm still not sold on this version of Shane Preston having a white hat, but at least he's wearing some black and the action could be taken from a scene in the story. Not that that should effect your reading experience I hasten to add, but it makes me happy so it might make you too. This could very well be art from the original paperbacks, but I am finding it hard to track images down on the internet, so cannot confirm.

My review of Book 1 in the series provides some background on British born author Cole Shelton (real name Roger Norris-Green), so please do read that if you want to know more. The good news is that Piccadilly Publishing appear to have scheduled releases at least up to Book 8 by the end of 2020 (hint: some of the covers get really good - thanks Piccadilly Publishing 😀).

In this story Shane and Jonah are still guns for hire, but even though they might be considered outlaws by some, they are also known for fighting on the side of good and against the injustice that permeates the old west. In Two Guns to Apache Wells they are hired by Ridge Donnell, the distraught father of Rebecca Donnell, who is taken by a notorious band of robbers known as the Long Knife outfit. Rebecca is on her way to the town of Sonora by stagecoach when she, two soldiers and the coach driver are held up for a strongbox of Army payroll destined for Fort Sanderson.

Shane and Jonah agree to try and find Rebecca, either dead or alive, and bring her back to her father and also perhaps to reunite her with her fiance, a dandified young man by the name of Oliver Stobie. They set off into the surrounding countryside to locate the missing stagecoach and its passengers.

Again, the story tends to concentrate on Shane rather than Jonah. I get it now. Jonah is there to support and help Shane - who is still on the lookout for the man with a scarred face who murdered his wife - he has sworn to take his revenge, and only once he has it will he hang up his gun. Jonah does get a bit interesting action in this story though. The attentions of a very persistent admirer! As for Shane his  sense of duty and fairness still drives the story, and his relationship with supporting characters reflects this attitude.

Norris-Green writes a tight-plotted and fast paced tale once again. It's a good read that never slackens in pushing the plot forward (to be fair there isn't much room to deviate due to length) or presenting new supporting characters. I particualrly liked Father Matthew Lockley who I hope will be making a reappearance later in the series.

In comparison to Gun Law at Hangman's Creek, this installment didn't quite reach the same hieghts. It really moves very fast indeed, and ultimately I'd have liked more time with Shane and Jonah than we get. In terms of gun action, there isn't a lot, but this is a different kind of story leading up to a seige (albeit one very quickly resolved). However I'm still invested with the character, want to get more background and see how things develop so I have already pre-ordered the next two ebooks. Can't say much more than that.

Another good for value piece from Picadilly Publishing at £1.22. No formatting or spellings errors I noticed.