Saturday 31 March 2012

Bleached Bones in the Dust available in Large Print

The Linford Western paperback version of Bleached Bones in the Dust is now available. I have mixed feelings about photo-realistic covers. I much prefer traditional artwork, but I guess in this case the bloke in the picture looks tough enough.

ISBN: 9781444810240
Large Print (Soft Cover) - 232 Pages
Published - 01-03-2012
Genre - Western
Price - £ 8.99

For twenty years, bounty hunter Montgomery Drake searched for Lomax Rhinehart, to make him pay for an atrocity he committed during the war. When Drake's friend, Wallace Sheckley, tells him he's found Rhinehart, he follows him to Sunrise. But Arnold Hays and his gunslingers have the town in the grip of fear. Then Sheckley goes missing and Rhinehart cannot be found. Hays is key to discovering what has happened to both men. But will Drake's gun get the answers?

Monday 26 March 2012

Review of Riders of the Barren Plains

I was delighted to see the following review on Tom McNulty's fine blog:

When it comes to westerns I. J. Parnham should be at the top of everyone’s reading list. He’s not only prolific but he’s a damn good writer. Riders of the Barren Plains is one of his more recent books for Robert Hale’s Black Horse Western series and it’s a fine entertainment...

Read more at Dispatches from the Last Outlaw.

Saturday 24 March 2012

Dirk Gently: Gentle comedy, but perhaps too gentle

Following on from 2011's pilot episode from BBC4, the first series of three episodes detailing the adventures of the holistic detective was entertaining, although not as entertaining as it could have been.

The problem that many Douglas Adams fans focussed on is that the show had little to do with the books. Apart from mentioning character names and minor plotting points from the two and a quarter completed novels, there's little in the series that actually comes from the novels. I didn't view that as an issue as a BBC4 show doesn’t have the budget to tackle the stories properly. More importantly, the format's premise is that Dirk Gently is a detective who solves crimes based on the fundamental interconnectedness of everything. So to my mind even if the tv stories have nothing to do with the novels, they will still, in some way that may not be apparent yet, be connected!

For me the main problem is that the show is unsure what it wants to be, which is sad as it seems obvious that it ought to pitch itself somewhere between Dr Who and Sherlock. Viewers who find Dr Who's fantasy too fantastic can take solace in Gently's grounded fantasy while those who find Sherlock not fantastic enough can enjoy a show that can incorporate science fiction ideas. Two of the four episodes took that approach (the pilot and the middle episode of series 1) and they worked excellently, while the other two were less successful and came over as a very low budget Sherlock featuring ideas that were too whimsical for that series. In fact even the theme tune sounds like something composed and then rejected for Sherlock.

The pilot featured missing cats and time-travel, which was in the spirit of the novels, while the middle episode concerned robots, artificial intelligence, and body-swapping. The resulting stories were exactly what the show should be, namely a comic, science fiction detective series in which the solution to the murder plot involves an element that a reality-based detective series could never use. Sadly the other two stories prove this point as they could have been told in any other detective show as they centred on such disparate elements as hired guns from the Pentagon, nefarious cleaners, horoscopes and stalkers.

Despite that, all the episodes feature good running jokes (along with plenty of actual running when the story needs padding) concerning Dirk's money troubles, his amoral attitude, his downtrodden side-kick, his downtrodden secretary, and his downtrodden office. Better still, the science fiction episodes have better acting with Helen Baxendale appearing as Dirk's sidekick's girlfriend, and in the middle episode there's some genuine character development and emotion with Dirk enjoying a touching love interest.

I hope the show gets commissioned for a second series as the first series shows a lot of promise. But I hope the makers realize that the unique quality the show can provide for the tv detective genre lies with the fantastic and not with the mundane.

Monday 5 March 2012

Night of the Gunslinger

I've received the news that Hale will publish my western Night of the Gunslinger. I expect it'll see print around May 2013 and it'll be my 27th Black Horse Western.

This novel was one of those itches I had to scratch and I've been trying to reach that itchy spot for a few years. The basic idea was to write a story in real time and, when this proved to be too tricky, to write a novel detailing the events in a single day. So about ten years ago I started Bad Day in Dirtwood with this intention. Rapidly the discipline of keeping all the events within a 24-hour period proved wrong for the story and so I abandoned the constraint with the intention of trying again later.

A few years later I returned to the idea with Dead by Sundown, which constrained the idea further by making it a story that would start at sunup and end at sundown. Again the constraint proved too much for the story. A couple of years later I tried again with Bad Moon over Devil's Ridge, this time detailing events over a single night. This story had two points of view rather than the one I'd used for the previous attempts and so I thought it might work this time, but again I had to relax the time constraint leaving me wondering whether I'd ever make it work without cheating by using flashbacks or extensive exposition etc.

As it turned out, I solved the problem by ignoring it. I started writing Night of the Gunslinger with the intention of writing a story about a law office siege in the days leading up to a notorious outlaw's trial. Except I got further and further into the story detailing the events leading up to the siege with no sign of the siege starting until one day I realized that I probably didn't need the siege at all. At that point I also realized that I was halfway through the story and everything so far had happened during a single night...

Whether the story works or not, I'm glad I finally got rid of that itch! Here's my suggested blurb:

With the town marshal laid up with a broken leg, Deputy Rick Cody must stand alone to protect New Town during a night of mayhem. At sunup Edison Dent will stand trial for Ogden Reed's murder. Although Rick suspects that Edison is innocent, he also reckons his own sister knows more than she's prepared to reveal.

With Rick having only one night to uncover the truth, his task is made harder when the outlaw Hedley Beecher plots to free the prisoner while Ogden's brother Logan vows to kill Edison and anyone who stands in his way. Within an hour of sundown four men are dead, and so begins the longest and bloodiest night of Rick's life.