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Trail of the Reaper (Linford Western Library) Paperback – Large Print, 1 Aug 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Ulverscroft Large Print Books Ltd; Large type edition edition (1 Aug. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843958775
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843958772
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 12.7 x 18.4 cm

More About the Author

B J Holmes (Bryan or BJ to his friends) wrote westerns under his own name and also five pen-names: Ethan Wall, Charles Langley Hayes, Sean Kennedy, Jack Darby and J William Allen.
Of his fifty books, eleven so far have been, or are being, re-issued as e-books. Alongside the Piccadilly entries (Shatterhand and Reaper series) publishers Robert Hale have issued his GUNSMOKE IN VEGAS as an e-book which is now available on Amazon under his J WILLIAM ALLEN nom-de-plume.
"The VEGAS book is the closest I ever got to a movie," BJ says, "when the president of a US state Film Commission - out of the blue - got in touch, expressing an interest in it. Discussion got as far as mentioning the word "screenplay" and, ignorant at the time of the concept of 'development hell', I reckoned I was at least one step up the magic ladder (albeit a very long ladder). So for a short time I was cock-a-hoop. But it was only to be for a short time - the matter suddenly went cold and the project didn't materialise. Heigh-ho, that's the way the cookie crumbles."
"Anyway a hefty bit of research - history, geography - had gone into it," he went on, "because I had set it in the Las Vegas of long ago - which as far as I know hadn't been done before. Nowadays we associate the place with gambling and gangsters but at the time of my story it was still just an out-of-the-way watering hole, known variously as Vegas Springs or The Meadows, whose actual whereabouts were still little known."
"Remains of the early settlement are there to this day as an historical exhibit just out of town. but of the many people I know who have holidayed in Las Vegas none have visited the site. Don't blame 'em, really - folk go there for the bright lights - not a history lesson! Anyway, readers can decide for themselves whether or not GUNSMOKE IN VEGAS would have made a good movie."

Up-dates on the author can be found on the PICCADILLY PUBLISHING website* while ADAM WRIGHT's BLACK HORSE WESTERN site** carries an extended interview (including a not-very-complimentary caricature of him as an obnoxious sheriff, done of him by one of his students). Incidentally, the latter interview also reveals how, late in life, the author happened to become for a short time a "crossword guru" (as one newspaper hyperbolically called him) with a handful of books emerging under the Bloomsbury, Collin and A & C Black labels. "I was particularly proud of the crossword dictionary which, with the 2nd edition and my adding to it daily, had taken eleven years to complete - about the same time it took Samuel Johnson to finish his dictionary - but he had an army of helpers!"

And next .... in the pipeline from Piccadilly......HEAD WEST, the first comprehensive collection of all the writer's western short stories published over a span of thirty years.


Product Description

From the Author

‘Trail of the Reaper’ is the seventh in a series of books that charts the life of bounty hunter Jonathan Grimm from the early 1860s up to the turn of the century. As the story goes, it was a fanciful journalist in the early days writing of his exploits and no-nonsense ruthlessness who first referred to him as The Grim Reaper and, somewhat to Grimm’s chagrin, the tag stuck – and gave me a running theme for the titles.
I actually began the series in the middle of Grimm’s life (at the time having no idea it would develop into a continuous chronicle) and only backtracked when readers asked me what happened before. So, as the series was not written in sequence, it might be useful here to list them in order of story chronology.
(1) COMES THE REAPER (Hale, 1995; Linford, 1998)
The saga begins as we first meet the youthful Scotsman Jonathan Grimm optimistically emigrating to the U.S. to start a new life with his young bride. After journeying inland from Seattle, the couple’s attempts to settle are disrupted when they find themselves in the middle of an Indian war (The Yakima Uprising). Following an unhappy ending to the episode, Grimm soon finds himself embroiled in the War Between the States. We follow his participation in the conflict, culminating at the end of hostilities with his being enrolled by President Lincoln as a bodyguard. One doesn’t have to be an expert in history to guess that that posting is not smooth and leads to a whole new set of problems.
(2) VIVA REAPER! (Hale, 1996)
As a result of events at the end of the first book, Grimm finds himself journeying south of the border and is quickly swept up in an adventure chasing no-goods in Mexico.
(3) GUNS OF THE REAPER (Hale,1983)
Back in the States and now an experienced bounty chaser with a reputation, Grimm is hired by the Governor of Arizona to help clear the Territory of its desperadoes.
(4) DOLLARS FOR THE REAPER (Hale, 1990; Linford, 1992)
On to the 1880s, when we find Grimm journeying to Kansas for this episode which charts his involvement in the pursuit of Jesse James. I can’t improve on the blurb which runs: the confrontation between the most effective bounty-hunter in American history and the West’s most notorious outlaw could only have one outcome – an unquestioned finality for one or the other!
(5) BLOOD ON THE REAPER (Hale, 1992; Ulverscroft, 1995)
Attracted by the bounties offered by Hanging Judge Parker, Grimm is now working out of Fort Smith, Arkansas. The story takes a twist when Grimm guns down one of the desperadoes he is chasing – only to find the villain had his young daughter in tow as a ploy to avoid suspicion. In the middle of nowhere, Grimm finds his task of pursuing other hardcases now hampered by his unexpected role as temporary ‘parent’. Furthermore, the situation is not helped by the girl’s understandable hostility towards him. The feeling is mutual but, after various adventures together, they are reconciled and the book ends with them having developed some feeling for each other. (As a grown woman Sarah features in a later book.)
(6) COFFIN FOR THE REAPER (Hale, 1994)
Ever since seeing ‘One-Eyed Jacks’ I had hankered to write a ‘seaside’ western and the opportunity arose when Grimm found himself adventuring out on the Californian coast. To be honest, I never found out how readers reacted to this little number. Rather cheekily, I played a trick on the reader – a trick that would be impossible to pull off in a film. (Shucks, yet another reason why my stuff is unlikely to reach the big screen.) So, for me, ‘Coffin’ stands out as a bit of an oddball in the series. But I do remember at the time finally taking advantage of having a series on my hands and deliberately setting up the start of a new adventure in the closing pages. This was the first time I had consciously done so but, ironically, it was another ten years before I picked up the loose thread – in Book 7. So much for looking ahead.
(7) TRAIL OF THE REAPER (Hale, 2004)
And so to the latest – which takes Grimm into the 20th century, finding him non-plussed with advancing technology ranging from new weaponry to the automobile. It begins with him finishing off a particular job (the loose thread at the end of Book 6) and, now very long in the tooth, we find him considering giving up the bounty-hunting game. The girl from Book 5 (in a sense his adopted daughter) is now a grown woman and invites him to her wedding. Of course, things do not run smoothly and he soon finds himself embroiled with no-goods not to mention having to rescue her from kidnappers.
Just released, ‘Trail of the Reaper’ is readily available but if there are any readers keen to catch up on early books in the series, I guess they will have to trawl the second-hand stalls.
In retrospect I’m quite happy with the series as a whole. Following the life of one man from his youth to old age has allowed me to paint a picture of the sweep of American history, an intriguing and enjoyable task; and it’s been fun sharing in his adventures along the way.
Will the Reaper continue to ride? Well, I’ve been in his company for nearly twenty years and really don’t know whether there will be any more. Like arthritic Grimm himself, I’m not the man I used to be. (On the other hand … who knows … ?)
B.J.H. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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