Black’s Back … And he’s still quick on the draw
I close off the Gunslinger Series.
Michael A. Black is the award winning author of 43 books, most of which are in the mystery and thriller genres. He has also written in sci-fi, western, horror, and sports genres. A retired police officer, he has done everything from patrol to investigating homicides to conducting numerous SWAT operations. Black was awarded the Cook County Medal of Merit in 2010. He is also the author of over 100 short stories and articles, and wrote two novels with television star Richard Belzer (Law & Order SVU). His Executioner novel, Fatal Prescription, won the Best Original Novel Scribe Award. His latest novels are the Trackdown series (Devil’s Dance, Devil’s Fancy, Devil’s Brigade, and Devil’s Advocate) and Legends of the West (under his own name), Dying Art and Cold Fury (under Don Pendleton), and the Gunslinger series (Killer’s Choice, Killer’s Brand, Killer’s Ghost, Killer’s Gamble, and Killer’s Requiem) under the name A.W. Hart.
Last January, Paul Bishop, the acquisitions editor at Wolfpack Publishing, contacted me and said they wanted me to finish off the Gunslinger series that I, and a few others, have been writing under the house name of A. W. Hart. I’d already written three other books in the series, Gunslinger: Killer’s Chance, Gunslinger: Killer’s Brand, and Gunslinger: Killer’s Ghost. I had a great time writing each one of those. With my westerns, I try to make them as historically accurate as I can while still paying homage to the western mythology that has popularized the genre.
Sometimes this is easier said than done. Remember, writing westerns today, unless the book is set in modern times, deals with a rather bleak era. I mean, think about it. How entertaining would it be to read something that has total historical accuracy regarding a harsh, cruel era before toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash, deodorants, personal hygiene practices, etc.? Thus my cowboys break the historical mold and take baths when they can. And I also like to pay homage to the western mythology that has been popularized through the ages. The quick draw, for example, was pretty much a myth that originated in those movies and TV shows of a bygone era. However, my intention in writing the books is to entertain. I still get a thrill each time I watch James Arness walking on that dusty street to face down the bad guy in the opening credits of Gunsmoke. Sure it probably wasn’t anything like that in the real Old West, but like I said, that’s entertainment.
As I’ve said, it’s been a blast writing this series. I started with Gunslinger: Killer’s Chance, which has Connor, Abby, and Hicks rescuing a Chinese man named Lee, who’s tracking the whereabouts of his missing fiancée. The book touches on the way the Chinese immigrants were exploited while building the railroad system in the western United States. Naturally, Mr. Lee is something of a martial artist. (Anybody remember Kung Fu? Bruce Lee came up with the concept, but was considered “too Chinese” for the role by the television big wigs and was replaced with “round eye” actor David Carradine.) There’s also a professional gunman who has a business card with the chess symbol of a rook printed on it.
WIRE RANDALL D. LANDECKER SANTA FE
Gunslinger: Killer’s Brand has a powerful man who, along with his sons, runs roughshod over the entire territory adjacent to his large ranch called The Dominion. Added to that one are an ex-buffalo soldier who’s charged with murder, a group of mysterious masked riders, and a courtroom scene reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird. Gunslinger: Killer’s Ghost is my version of a western monster story as an enormous, mysterious creature stalks a mining encampment.
So when the opportunity to finish off the series by tying up the ongoing story arc that had been running since the first book was offered, I jumped at the chance. I quickly penned Gunslinger: Killer’s Gamble, which has the trio traveling through a California town and becoming involved in a big poker tournament as well as a boxing match. The first American Heavyweight Champion, John L. Sullivan, makes an appearance, as well as an actual western poet named Joaquin Miller. There’s way more to it than that, including Abby deciding to leave Hicks and her brother to be with a beautiful female gambler. This one sets up the final confrontation between our heroes and the mysterious man who’s been their nemesis from the beginning.
In Gunslinger: Killer’s Requiem, all of the questions about who Connor and Abby really are and the secret that River Hicks has been concealing since the first book are answered in a slam-bang, traditional western-style showdown. Let’s see; besides the revelation of the major villain and all the plot revelations, there’s a bounty hunter with a sawed-off rifle called the Mule’s Leg, a maniacal fanatic known at The Dark Deacon who leads a band of army-trained mercenaries, a masterful gunman whose skills rival those of River Hicks himself, the Pinkerton Detective Agency’s best detective, and a host of other surprises. I even found a way for the Bard himself, William Shakespeare, to make an appearance in this one. Romeo, Juliet, and Hamlet are all on hand.
I hope you’ll make A. W. Hart’s day and check out these last two books in the series. Although I finish off the story arc, there’s a chance our trio of heroes could return to strap on the guns one more time if the demand is great enough. In any case, I guarantee, if you like westerns, you won’t be disappointed.
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Legends of the West: A Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves Western
I had to include this image because Mike likes it, but the real reason, it is my favorite Michael A. Black novel. gdc
Love the Gunslinger series, Mike. You breathe life into your characters, and your settings. Very enjoyable reading!
This is a fun series! I missed one or two and have to get them. Thanks for this post, Mike and George!
I appreciate everyone stopping by to check this one out, and my special thanks to Big George for giving me the opportunity to be on his great blog once again. It’s always nice to hear from everyone, especially those who are far away. Stay strong, everybody, and take care.
Gotta check these out… Great to know more about this series. And that last photo really is the best.
I love this series! Of course Mike is one of my favorite authors and a good friend. This was a great post. And yes, back in the day, they didn’t bathe often or even change their clothes. The women wore long skirts that dragged in the dirt and through whatever else was in the road. Not nearly as romantic as the times were made out to be in the movies. But believe me, though Mike writes authentic Westerns, they are also full of adventure and surprises, and wonderful characters.
Mike, I read several of your Gunslinger books as well as the Trackdown series, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. I like the way your characters come to life on the page. I also enjoyed your action-packed books because scenes from them pop into my mind’s eye just like an excellent radio drama can make you “see” everything that happens just as if you’re watching a high-budget Hollywood movie.
So nice to learn more about you. My hubby is from Dodge City and the truth about back then is rather boring.
Very interesting Mike. I’m going to order my copy of “Gunslinger: Killer’s Chance.” I watch reruns of “Rawhide” starring Clint Eastwood in his breakout role as Ramrod Rowdy Yates. Thanks for the great interview.
I learn something every time I read either one of Michael A. Black’s novels or read one of his blogs. I have been meaning to buy Gunslinger, shame on me! But in truth, I’ve just finished up D.V. Berkom’s Retribution and Gunslingler (her protagonist is a woman), so I imagine along with Quick Draw, that rarely happened as well. I don’t think I will ever be able to watch Matt Dillon and not think of your comment 😉 Thanks for the education, Mike. I’m big into Westerns right now! Can’t wait to read yours. George, thank you!!!
How can you not like Mike’s Killer series. It’s action backed has great characters both good and bad and as he said includes some historical aspects. I’m a slow reader, but with Mike’s book I have tendency to read through them faster than usual because their exciting, suspenseful and interesting. Plus I love westerns. Thanks Mike for taking on these adventures.
You are a marvel, Mike. You keep writing good books. How? You must have a clone in your closet named Mike Black.
You are amazing, Mike, and I keep you in the front of my mind as a guiding light to write, write, write. Finished Killer Requiem last night, and loved it! Which you should take as high kudos because I don’t read westerns, except for yours. Smile. Hope to get an Amazon review up today (or tomorrow) There are so many things you do so well in your writing–like making your characters real people I can identify with…and more.
And prolific–how you do it amazes me. Anyway, enjoyed your post!