Wednesday 21 December 2016

Sharpshooter McClure now available on Kindle

Sharpshooter McClure is now available on Kindle. Sharpshooter was my 18th Black Horse Western and I approached republishing it with some trepidation as I remember it fondly and I feared I might no longer like what happens to Mike McClure in the story.
With my stories I always try to ensure there’s a big moment at the half-way point in the novel. I also try to get in a good bit at the end of chapter one, chapter three and a third of the way in, but the half-way twist I tend to view as being the most crucial as it’ll hopefully ensure that the reader reads the second half.

I enjoyed the half-way twist in this story probably more than any other I’ve written because it was extreme, it delved into an area I hadn’t visited before, and I had no idea what it would be until I wrote it.

Up until that big moment Mike McClure had been on a roller-coaster of danger with cliff-hangers and his life constantly in peril and so at the half-way point he was again just about to be killed. It was then that I realized I’d written enough words to be at the middle of the adventure. So I wondered what the big moment might be that would turn everything on its head, but nothing obvious would come to mind right up until the moment Mike had a gun pressed to his head and the bad guy was about to pull the trigger. Then, without thinking and before Mike could find a way out of his predicament, I let the baddie shoot and that sent the book in a completely different direction than the one I had expected...

Sharpshooter McClure is now available from all good amazon stores.

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Paperback version of The Outlawed Deputy now available

Cassidy Yates was appointed deputy sheriff of Redemption City but such was his knack of attracting trouble that barely twenty-four hours after his appointment he had been slapped in jail! And if that wasn’t bad enough, Brett McBain’s outlaw gang rode into town to bust Nathaniel McBain from jail. Sheriff Wishbone is killed and the townsfolk think Cassidy responsible. Now, having been imprisoned for the murder of his own sheriff, Cassidy must prove his innocence and the only way to do this is to infiltrate Brett’s gang. He must convince Brett he’s an outlaw, and persuade everybody else that he really is an honest lawman. Could he pull off his enormous bluff or would he join Sheriff Wishbone on Boot Hill?

Available as a download and a paperback at Amazon.

Wednesday 30 November 2016

More Six-shooter Tales now available on Kindle

A collection of six short stories, More Six-shooter Tales, is now available on Kindle.


Each story features one of my serial characters. I had the idea for this project when I republished Massacre at Bluff Point. It set me thinking about why I’d never written about Ethan Craig again and when I rummaged around on my hard drive I found a story I’d started called Return to Dirtwood. It was only a few pages long and it fizzled out without getting anywhere so I could see why I’d given up on it.

So I picked it up again to see where the tale would go, and it turned into a brief 10 page story. That got me thinking about other stories I’d started and abandoned, which quickly moved me on to an aborted Nat McBain tale. Nat spent seven years in jail, in both the real and fiction world, between Wanted: McBain and The Secret of Devil’s Canyon and in that time I’d intended to write a jail story, but again that tale fizzled out before it got started.

Again I picked up the idea and again I ended up writing a short story, which got me thinking about producing short tales for more of my other characters. The final result is More Six-shooter Tales.

In each tale the central character faces a challenge they’ve never encountered before. So Ethan Craig finally heads back to his hometown. Nat McBain must face up to the truth of what going to jail will mean. Cassidy Yates is tempted to frame a man he knows is guilty although the court reckons otherwise. Fergal O’Brien has a rare romantic encounter. Marshal Devine must show his gratitude after his life is saved, and Jim Dragon must finally end his feud with Pierre Dulaine to defeat a common enemy.

I had fun writing these tales and they’re now available from all good amazon stores.

Wednesday 9 November 2016

Paperback version of Bad Day in Dirtwood now available

When Luke McCoy killed his first man, the townsfolk of Dirtwood formed a posse, arrested him and threw him into Beaver Ridge jail to rot. For seven long years Luke plotted his revenge and then he finally managed to escape. Now he could act out his vengeance! But when he rides into Dirtwood, the town is already in the grip of fear. Josh Carter and his ruthless outlaw gang have taken over the town and only Luke’s childhood friend, Ethan Craig, has the courage to stand up to them. Luke readily adds to Dirtwood’s woes, but as the lead flies and the bodies mount, can an old friendship offer a man as murderous as Luke one last chance of redemption?

Now available as a download and as a paperback from Amazon.

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Paperback version of Mendosa's Gun-runners now available from amazon

I've now published a paperback version of Mendosa's Gun-runners.

Over the last few years I've tried several times to create POD paperbacks using Createspace, but I never got far. The formatting issues with margins and bleed and the covers I'd painstakingly created not being the right size all made me give up.

Then amazon kindly added a paperback option on Kindle. I resisted the temptation to try it for several minutes and then dived in. Thankfully I got on better with it than with Createspace. There's still a steep learning curve with dpi issues, fonts, hyphenation etc, but to my delight I now have a paperback available for one of my books. Others will follow . . .

When Quinn Mendosa’s gun-runners steal fifty crates of rifles from Fort Stirling, Sheriff Rourke Bowman reckons that plenty of trouble will be heading his way. But that trouble arrives sooner than he expects when his jailbird brother Dave Bowman rides into town and raises hell. Rourke has enough trouble on his hands, but when Dave offers to help him capture Mendosa by infiltrating his gun-runners it’s an offer that’s just too good to refuse. Can the unreliable Dave complete his mission before those rifles fulfil their deadly purpose? Or will Rourke live to regret not running Dave out of town the moment he first clapped eyes on him?

Now available in paperback and as a download from Amazon.

Wednesday 26 October 2016

Incident at Pegasus Heights to be a Black Horse Western

I'm delighted to report that Crowood have agreed to publish my western Incident at Pegasus Heights. This novel appeared earlier this year as a Kindle title, and it'll continue to be available on amazon.

It's the second novel featuring fossil-hunter Jim Dragon and it'll be my 36th Black Horse Western. I assume it'll appear some time in 2017.

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Legend of the Dead Men's Gold in paperback

My 2013 Black Horse Western in now available as a large print paperback.


It's my 24th Linford Western.

Ten years ago, the Helliton gang holed up in a stronghold with a stolen wagonload of gold. One year later, all of them were dead - fallen defending their hoard from other outlaws, and fighting amongst themselves. The last living gang member cursed the gold, saying that if he couldn't have it, nobody would. Or so the legend goes... Trip Kincaid had always been fascinated by the tale. His brother Oliver suspects it's the true reason behind his sudden disappearance - and is determined to find him...

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Devine's Mission to be published as a Black Horse Western

I'm delighted to report that Crowood have agreed to publish my western Devine's Mission. This novel appeared earlier this year as a Kindle title, and it'll continue to be available on amazon.

It's the third novel featuring Marshal Jake T. Devine and it'll be my 35th Black Horse Western. I assume it'll appear some time in 2017.

Wednesday 3 August 2016

Take the Money and Run

The latest Fergal O'Brien novel is now available on Kindle.


This book is the first Fergal O'Brien adventure since 2014's The Ballad of Dayton Hyde. As with the previous books in the series, this tale includes several elements that don't often get featured in westerns: in this case, a Walter Mitty type bartender, a spiritualist who can talk to the dead, and match fixing in cricket.
The last element let me carry out a long-time desire to write a western featuring a cricket match, as cricket is the only sport I've ever followed. I've tried to do it several times before, but each time the plot idea was nothing more than some cowboys decide to play cricket. As there was no logical reason why they should do that, the story always fizzled out quickly.
In this case though I didn't set out to include a cricket match. The working title was Bunty the Bounty Hunter and involved a bartender who dreams about having an exciting life and who gets it into her head that Fergal is an outlaw who needs bringing to justice. Meanwhile Fergal is trying to rebuild his fortunes after losing everything in the previous book and sees an opportunity when he discovers the town of Paradise is staging a horse racing competition.
I completed the first draft, but I didn't like the horse racing scenes as all the dashing around soon became tiresome. I decided I needed a different contest and so for a while I toyed with lacrosse, which is something that the townsfolk might have played, but then finally I realized that this was my chance to use cricket.
When completed, I struggled with a title as I did so want to publish a book called Bunty the Bounty Hunter, but mindful that such a title was probably too silly even for a Fergal O'Brien novel I tried to find a cricket pun that Brian Johnson might have enjoyed. I finally settled on Take the Money and Run, a title which sums up Fergal's whole philosophy of life...
The book is now available from amazon.
Fergal O’Brien and Randolph McDougal have suffered bad times before, but when they walk into Paradise they are at their worst. Footsore and hungry, they don’t have a cent to their names, but when Fergal hears about a contest between the old and new parts of town, he sees an opportunity to rebuild their fortunes. The only trouble is, the contest is a cricket match and Fergal has no idea what cricket is.
Worse is to follow when Fergal and Randolph are victims of mistaken identity leading to Sheriff Merryweather suspecting they are outlaws. Then the fearsome gunslinger Tex Porter sets out to raid Paradise’s bank, which claims to be unbreakable.
If Fergal is going to complete his plan to make a lot of money quickly and then leave town, he’ll have to find a way to appease Sheriff Merryweather, defeat Tex Porter and, hardest of all, learn the laws of cricket.

Friday 1 July 2016

Massacre at Bluff Point now available on Kindle

Massacre at Bluff Point is available on Kindle. It was my 15th Black Horse Western, and the third and final book featuring Ethan Craig.

Republishing my books on Kindle has brought up many surprises, and this was another one as I'd forgotten that I'd written three Ethan Craig books. At the time I now recall I'd intended to write more stories, but along the way Ethan just passed from my thoughts.
The intention was that he was an ordinary bloke with no special gun skills or ingenuity, but who somehow survives and wins through. The other intention was that each book would be very different. So Bad Day in Dirtwood was a gritty homesteaders defending their patch tale, while Six-shooter Bride was a light-hearted romance. This book was the wrongly accused man clears his name tale.
I guess, now that I think about it, that it was the variety and lack of a common theme that stopped me from continuing his adventures.
The book is now available from all good amazon stores.
Ethan Craig picked the wrong day to start working for Sam Pringle’s outfit. Within hours of joining up, Ansel Stark’s bandit gang bushwhacked the outfit at Bluff Point and Ethan saw all his new colleagues gunned down in cold blood.
He vowed to get his revenge, but before Ethan could get his manhunt underway his bad luck continued when for the second time he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and Sheriff Henry Fisher arrested him. His presumed crime was being a member of the very gang he’d sworn to track down!
With nobody believing his innocence and a ruthless bandit to catch, can Ethan ever hope to succeed?

Tuesday 14 June 2016

Back in the Black Horse saddle again

I'm pleased to report that The Crowood Press have agreed to publish my western Marshal of the Barren Plains.

I actually wrote this book last year. I'd finished it, printed it off, and stuck it in an envelope ready to post to Robert Hale. Then I logged on to Royal Mail to print off a stamp only for the site to clog up and refuse to print, so I amused myself for a few minutes while I waited for it to clear. And it was then that I read the news that Hale had just announced they were closing.

Anyhow, I waited a while before trying the new publisher of the Black Horse series and I was delighted to find they are just as approachable and just as quick to report back as Hale was. So I remain hopeful that the series is in good hands and should keep going for a while longer, or at least until Dodgy Dave burns down the last library and stomps on the ashes.

This book returns to one of my favourite locales of the Barren Plains and this time, after getting several mentions in previous books, it finally has scenes set at the Bleak Point silver mine at the heart of the Barren Plains.

It'll be my 34th Black Horse Western and I guess it'll be out some time in 2017. Here's my draft blurb:

When Marshal Rattigan Fletcher failed to stop Jasper Minx raiding the town bank, the angry townsfolk forced him to leave Ash Valley in disgrace. Rattigan went west in pursuit of Jasper, and in the inhospitable Barren Plains he got a chance to put right his mistake.
Rattigan is hired to find out why men from the Bleak Point silver mine have been disappearing in mysterious circumstances. As Jasper now works at the mine, Rattigan doesn't have to look far for a culprit, but Jasper claims he's not responsible. With the miners siding with Jasper, Rattigan will need to rediscover his tarnished instincts as a lawman if he is ever to solve the mystery and bring his Nemesis to justice.

Thursday 19 May 2016

Bad Moon over Devil's Ridge now available on Kindle.

Bad Moon over Devil's Ridge is available on Kindle. It was originally my 14th Black Horse Western.

As I mentioned earlier on this blog this is the fifth Cassidy Yates tale, but I labelled the fourth one as being the third McBain book, so this one is now labelled as Cassidy Yates, Book 4. I hope that's clear because I'm already getting confused.
This story features Sheriff Cassidy Yates's long-lost brother Emerson. That's long lost in that Cassidy didn't know he had a brother until I started writing this story. Emerson is everything Cassidy isn't.
The thing I enjoyed about writing this book was alternating the viewpoint character with each chapter. I've often told stories from the viewpoint of several characters, but in this case I maintained the strict discipline of having one chapter relate Cassidy's adventures while the next one turns to the newspaper correspondent, Nick Kearney, and then back again. Making sure the plot advances for each character at the same pace while leaving both characters in tricky situations was a fun challenge and it was harder than I expected. I'm fairly sure I haven't tried it again since.
The book is now available from amazon.
When Sheriff Cassidy Yates rode into Eagle Heights he never expected he would be in jail by nightfall on an unfounded murder charge. Although Cassidy answered the charge, it was only at the cost of implicating his own wayward brother in both this murder and the kidnapping of the dead man’s widow.
Against an escalating conspiracy of fear operating in the town, Cassidy gains the help of a young newspaper correspondent in his quest to find the real killer and the kidnapped woman. But with gun-toting ranchers and numerous hired guns standing between Cassidy and justice, can he prove his brother’s innocence?

Monday 2 May 2016

The Man who Tamed Lone Pine

The Man who Tamed Lone Pine is now available. It is my 33rd Black Horse Western.

This book features the return of Nathaniel McBain and Shackleton Frost. Having given Nathaniel the job in The Secret of Devil's Canyon of escorting prisoners to jail, which at the time felt like a job with endless possibilities for plots, I found that it wasn't quite the gold mine of possibilities that I'd first thought it would be. Every story idea I came up with seemed to revolve around the prisoner claiming he's innocent and Nathaniel being concerned enough to ignore his duty and help the prisoner clear his name.

So years have passed since that story without me writing about Nathaniel again until it occurred to me that if you have a man who escorts prisoners to jail, there are two basic plots available. In one the prisoner is a victim of a miscarriage of justice and in the other he's isn't. I decided to try the second one, although, as it turned out, the matter of the prisoner's guilt was only a small part of a bigger mystery....

When Nathaniel McBain and Shackleton Frost arrive in Lone Pine to escort a prisoner to Beaver Ridge jail, they are shocked to discover it is Shackleton's old friend Sheriff Ashton Clarke. Five years ago Ashton tamed the town, but now he's been charged with killing in cold blood. 
Ashton claims that someone from his past has framed him, and Shackleton believes his friend. Buts as more bodies are found and with all the evidence pointing to Ashton, the case against him begins to look unbreakable. If Nathaniel and Shackleton are to solve the mystery and save their friend, they will have to turn their backs on their duty and use their trusty sixshooters instead.

Monday 18 April 2016

Devine's Mission now available on Kindle

Devine's Mission is now available on Kindle.
After 2012 's Devine I knew that I would one day write about US Marshal Jake T. Devine again, although it took me a few years before I decided to let him ride again.

Once I'd decided to start writing I had the usual problem that I have with Devine of creating a worthwhile adversary. Marshal Devine is a brutal, no-nonsense lawman who doesn't sit around waiting for the end of the story so that he can shoot the bad guys. He just kicks down the door, abuses everyone in the room, and then blasts the bad guy between the eyes. If he's in a good mood he might vary the routine by spitting on the dead man's face and whistling, but otherwise it's hard to avoid him just wiping out everyone long before the plot can unfold.

So this time I outlined a plot with plenty of twists involving stolen gold and the fiendish plans of master bad guy Scorpio Blake. Then I started writing. Three pages into the story Devine decided he'd had enough of idle chatter and killed Scorpio, which slightly destroyed my outlined plot. So, I just carried on writing and decided to see where Devine would take things. As it turned out, I was surprised by the solution to the central mystery of what had happened to the stolen gold, even though the clues had been there from the moment I wrote the title on a blank page...

Anyhow, the book is now available from amazon.

When Lachlan McKinley raided Fairmount Town’s bank, the four-thousand dollar bounty that was posted on his head attracted plenty of manhunters, but everyone that went after him ended up dead.
Bounty hunter Jonathon Lynch reckoned he could do better. Lachlan was Jonathon’s step-brother and his mission was personal, but when he joined the hunt he soon discovered that all was not as it seemed and Lachlan may, in fact, be innocent. Worse, U.S. Marshal Jake Devine was also after Lachlan.
Devine is more likely to destroy the peace than to keep it, and so can Jonathon bring the guilty to justice before Devine does his worst?

Wednesday 6 April 2016

I'm dreadful sorry, Clementine

After a bit of soul-searching I've decided to change the title of my Kindle book Clementine to The Ballad of Dayton Hyde.

Since publication Clementine has taken a serene, almost zen like approach to sales and so I've now decided it needs to buck up its ideas and raise its head above the water. Perhaps the title Clementine didn't evoke the feeling of a western as much as I thought it would. Perhaps it conjures up images of fruit that goes mouldy before you can get it back from the supermarket. Or then again perhaps the world just wasn't ready for a musical version of Raise the Titanic.

Whatever the reason I decided that changing the cover, title and blurb might help, or to be more precise it was unlikely to do much harm to a book that was drifting along like tumbleweed in a dusty ghost town.

The all-old book with its all-new title is now available from all good amazon stores.

When snake-oil seller Fergal O’Brien sells a bottle of his universal remedy to the dying Leland Crawford, Leland makes a miraculous recovery, for several minutes. Then he drops dead.
In the few minutes before he dies, Leland bequeaths to Fergal everything he owns. Unfortunately, Leland’s only asset is his beloved Clementine, a 250-foot sidewheeler that once ruled the Big Muddy, until it sank.
Worse, Leland is heavily in debt and now the creditors expect Fergal to pay up. With Fergal having no money, minstrel Dayton Hyde offers him a way out, but only if he kills Rivertown’s popular lawman Marshal Swift.
To avoid carrying out Dayton’s unwelcome task, Fergal will need to use all his legendary cunning or like as not in this wet weather, he’ll share the fate of Clementine.

Sunday 20 March 2016

Large Print version of The Devil's Marshal

The Devil's Marshal has now been published as a large print paperback. It's my 23rd Linford Western.

I must admit when I opened up the parcel and saw this book I thought the publisher had made a mistake as I didn't recognize the story described in the blurb at all. I guess I can be excused as I wrote it about four years ago, but I still found myself scratching my head until I worked out what had happened.

Linford Westerns had rewritten the blurb, which I'm not sure they've ever done before. Usually they just delete a few words to fit it on the page, but this time it's all new with little reference to the original Black Horse one. I reckon that's a good move as they seem to be putting a lot of care into their books as of late, with lively title fonts, covers that often match the story and so forth. Anyhow, here's the all new blurb:

When Lucinda Latimer is accused of murdering Archibald Harper, her bounty hunter brother Brodie is convinced of her innocence. Vowing to find the culprit, he turns up a witness in the form of drunken varmint Wilfred Clay - who, minutes after admitting to seeing the real killer, is shot to death on his own front porch. All the clues point to the murderer being Derrick Shelby - the man known as 'the devil's marshal'. The only trouble is, Derrick died a year ago ...

Tuesday 8 March 2016

McBain Box Set now available on Kindle

I've bundled up three of my e-books: Death or Bounty, The Ten Per Cent Gang, and Wanted: McBain as a box set.

Up until now Wanted McBain has been available on Kindle as Cassidy Yates, Book 4, but I had a change of mind and decided to rebrand it as Book 3 of the McBain series. I think this was the right thing to do as McBain and Yates are joint main characters, but on balance McBain drives the plot more than Yates does. In addition Wanted: McBain directly follows the events in Death or Bounty and The Ten Per Cent Gang, but less so the events in the earlier Cassidy Yates books.
The three-book set is now available from all good amazon stores.

Sunday 21 February 2016

Incident at Pegasus Heights now available on Kindle

Incident at Pegasus Heights is now available for download on Kindle.

This book features the return of Jim Dragon, who was a character in my 2011 Nathaniel McBain novel The Secret of Devil's Canyon. Jim was involved only in a secondary sub-plot, but I enjoyed writing about his battles with his rival in the fossil-hunting business, Pierre Dulaine. So I resolved at the time that Jim would return in his own adventure very soon, except I then promptly forgot about him.
So five years passed before I again turned my thoughts to Jim and I found that he was again searching for bones and then trying to hide them from Pierre, but this time he got involved in an even stranger search for the bones of a winged horse.
Clearly he couldn't find Pegasus and when the plot takes an unexpected twist and he starts looking for a live flying horse, it's even clearer that he can't succeed. So I enjoyed writing this one because I had no idea how it'd all turn out and how exactly a wagon came to be abandoned, on the top of a large rock, in the middle of a lake... 

The book is now available from all good amazon stores.

When fossil-hunter Jim Dragon is on his way to Bear Creek to sell his latest discovery, he goes to the aid of a woman in distress, Elmina Fay. Unfortunately, Pierre Dulaine takes advantage of the situation and steals his fossils.
Jim vows to reclaim his property and Elmina offers to help him, but only if he’ll do something for her. She has heard a tale about the bones of a winged horse being found nearby and she wants Jim to find Pegasus for her.
At first, Jim is skeptical about embarking on such a mission, but before long he discovers that the truth behind the tale is even stranger than he could ever have imagined.

Thursday 28 January 2016

The Mystery of Silver Falls

The Mystery of Silver Falls in now available. It is my 32nd Black Horse Western.

This book continues my attempt to rectify a glaring omission in westerns, namely that too few are set underwater. I've never been sure why I like having my heroes fall into rivers or go diving into lakes, but I think I might have got it out of my system with this one that features a hero who solves his problems by going all Captain Nemo . . .

The whole town turns out to watch the first train journey when the bridge at Silver Falls is completed. The atmosphere is joyous, but the day turns sour when Kane Cresswell and his bandit gang arrive. They raid the train and, in the ensuing chaos, fifty thousand dollars fall into the river, seemingly lost forever.

Wyndham Shelford cannot get this image out of his head and is determined to find the missing money. Soon bodies start washing up in the river, and the unconventional lawman US Marshal Lloyd Drake arrives. The Marshal believes that the train raid wasn't everything it seemed, but his reckless search for the truth is endangering the lives of everyone in town. Can Wyndham find the money and put a stop to this path of violence before it's too late?

Tuesday 12 January 2016

Oh, Sherlock, where did it all go wrong?

I’ve finally got round to watching the New Year ‘special’ Sherlock episode and even with my expectations set low it somehow failed to deliver. All shows have ups and downs, but this show is becoming quite fascinating in its ability to somehow be worse every time it returns. The pilot was a joyous romp and I’ve seen it numerous times and still enjoy it, but since then it’s been downhill.

When it was first announced that they were doing a Victorian episode, my immediate thought was that it would just be an excuse to bring back Moriarty from the dead. My second thought was that I hope it’s not more of that memory palace nonsense. Sadly, it was both of them. I find it amazing that a tv company would actually commission a story with the ‘it was only a dream’ twist. There are one-celled amoeba living on distant planets that have only just mastered the ability to move that know this twist is a bad idea, and yet there it was being presented as a valid way to tell a story.

Of course, having stories that aren’t real isn’t a problem. For instance, there’s that Star Trek Sherlock Holmes episode that was written for the sole purpose of bringing back Moriarty from the dead. That has the ‘it’s not real’ twist and the story is a lot of fun. The reason it works is that the twist is the answer to the problem of how can Moriarty walk off the holodeck and exist in the real world? The solution is that he didn’t and the real world isn’t real either. This is all very convoluted, but it’s never confusing because the scriptwriters worked hard to make things clear.

There’s a certain smug arrogance about Sherlock these days that means the scriptwriters for the special weren’t prepared to put in the effort to make the twist work. I’m not a fan of sticking rigidly to rules in writing, but as Kurt Vonnegut is just about my favourite author, I’ve always liked his rules. The eighth one is worth mentioning here:

Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

I’ve amended that rule for my own writing to one in which I always try to be fair to the reader. If there’s a twist in the plot, I try not to create it by deliberately concealing something. I’ll happily conceal plenty from the characters, but I never conceal anything from the reader that the characters know and as such I hope that nobody ever feels cheated when the characters discover something major.

That just wasn’t the case in Sherlock where the story was structured to deliberately conceal relevant facts from the viewer for as long as possible, although these were facts that Sherlock Holmes knew and there was no good reason to conceal them other than to create a twist. This, of course, violates Vonnegut’s eighth rule and it just goes to prove it’s not a wise rule to ignore.

I just hate it when detective shows reveal a huge fact in the last few minutes that changes everything and means there was no way you could follow the clues for yourself and solve the murder. Last week Endeavour in its first new episode did this when after trundling along for the first 85 minutes with a languid and relatively straightforward tale of murder and posh folk, it suddenly revealed in the last few minutes, and all without so much as a hint that this is what was going on, that the killer was really an evil twin who had concealed his existence for twenty years as part of a magic act, left the magic act, fallen in love with the good twin's girl, but when the girl married a rich man the good twin decided to win her back by taking on a new identity as a flamboyant gambler, building up a fortune, buying a stately home and then humiliating her husband at poker, but his plan failed when the evil twin killed him and took on his secret identity and then tried to woo the girl himself, but his cunning plan was undermined because the good twin had fallen in with an evil slot-machine salesman who was smuggling drugs in teddy bears at the local fair that just happened to include the magic act where he once performed illusions with the good twin and when a clippy got hold of the wrong teddy bear she was killed and that led to the magician killing him in retaliation.

I thought at the time that this data dump of new information at the end was just about as bad as it can get, but somehow Sherlock was worse. I reckon that's because following Vonnegut's rule and revealing everything immediately and not playing tricks on the viewer wouldn't have changed the Endeavour episode as Morse didn't know these facts either. But in Sherlock it would have led to a much better story as ‘it’s only a dream’ is then the basis of the story and not a twist. Sherlock could have got on the plane, taken drugs, and then passed out and woke up in Victorian times. Then the viewer would know from the start that the situation isn’t real and can enjoy working out why he’s having this particular dream.

This is what Life on Mars did. That ran for sixteen episodes, but it would never have worked without the opening ten minutes setting up the situation of Sam Tyler falling into a coma and waking up in the past. If it’d have started in the past and then revealed in the last episode that it was all a dream, the show would now be famed for having the worst ever ending in tv history rather than the best.

I'll stop moaning now. Roll on series 4 with better stories and less Moriarty, I hope. I mean, it can’t get any worse, can it? Can it?