Thursday, 15 June 2017

DEATH SONG by ANDREW McBRIDE



Up until April 2017 I had 2 acclaimed western novels, THE PEACEMAKER – published by Sundown Press as a paperback and e.book – and SHADOW MAN published by Crowood Press as an e.book – available to buy.
Reviews of THE PEACEMAKER:
‘A great book’ Spur award-winning and Pulitzer Prize-nominated author ROBERT VAUGHAN
For pure writing style, McBride’s gritty prose nails the time and place of his story with bold authority. …this relatively new author has thoroughly, and rightly so, claimed his place among the top Old West storytellers.’ RALPH COTTON (also a Pulitzer-Prize nominated novelist.)
SHADOW MAN: ‘A little masterpiece waiting for you to turn the page.’
Well, now there’s 4 more!  My 4 other western novels, originally published as hardbacks and paperbacks, have now been re-issued as e.books by Crowood Press. They are CANYON OF THE DEAD, DEATH WEARS A STAR, DEATH SONG and THE ARIZONA KID. They too have received acclaim. I’ll be blogging about them separately over the coming weeks.
Today I discuss DEATH SONG, which was the third of my westerns to be published.


I struggled to control my energy in my first two published westerns. DEATH SONG was the first time I feel I found the right pace. I think there’s probably a bigger story inside the framework of these 160 pages, something I could expand on at length, particularly in relation to the central character, Calvin Taylor. But I’m happy with the way DEATH SONG turned out.
DEATH SONG BLURB:
They were two men driven by implacable hatred: Lieutenant Ranald Neal of the U.S. Cavalry, seeking his place in the roll-call of history, as the man who ended the Indian Wars, and Sombra the Apache war chief, bent on revenge.
The two deadly enemies fought each other across the savage wilderness of the border country. They met for the last time in The Place of Bones, forbidden ground in the shadow of Ghost Mountain.
Caught in the middle, as this genocidal war reached its bloody climax, was the white woman who had been the Apaches captive and whose yellow hair gave Sombra luck in battle. Then, too, there was the formidable Calvin Taylor, Indian scout, hired gun and man killer. Could he, against all the odds, succeed in his deadly mission?

All 6 of my westerns, including the 4 re-issues, are set in the territories of Arizona and New Mexico in the 1870s and 1880s. All feature CALVIN TAYLOR as the central character – former Indian scout turned man hunter, Wells Fargo agent, Range Detective and sometimes sheriff.
The background to DEATH SONG is the later phase of the war between the white man and the Apaches, amongst the most formidable of the Native American tribes that Americans had to contend with as they pushed their frontier west.
Never very numerous, the Apaches ranged across a huge area of the Southern Plains and the Southwest from Oklahoma to Arizona, from high plains to deserts and mountains. One band, the Nednis (or Nameless Ones) even lived entirely in Mexico. But what they lacked in numbers they made up in ferocity and fighting skill. GENERAL GEORGE CROOK, probably the most successful Apache-fighting general, called them ‘the tigers of the human species.’ The word Apache itself means ‘enemy.’

General Crook with Apache scouts
The Apaches were split into widely-scattered bands – don’t believe the next western you see where beleaguered whites talk about being surrounded by the ‘whole Apache nation!’ The nearest the Apaches came to that was when 3 or 4 bands might make a temporary alliance.
My novel concerns the Chiricahua band of southeast Arizona and southwest New Mexico. In THE PEACEMAKER I’ve written about the struggle of the Chiricahuas under their great chief COCHISE. DEATH SONG is set later, when the Chiricahuas have been placed on reservation, but are prone to break out. During this time leaders such as GERONIMO and VICTORIO came to prominence.




Chiricahuas 1886. GERONIMO 2nd from left. 
Victorio
Against them ranged U.S. cavalry and infantry units, led by such men as GENERAL CROOK, GENERAL NELSON MILES and LT. HOWARD CUSHING (killed by Chiricahuas in 1871.)

DEATH SONG concerns an attempt to rescue a white woman held captive by Apaches. Apaches carried off women and children during raids, and some of the boy captives grew to be warriors amongst their captors. PAUL NEWMAN played a white man raised by Apaches in the classic movie HOMBRE.

Here’s a real Apache captive: SANTIAGO (or JIMMY) McKINN, a Mexican-Irish boy held by Geronimo’s band until 1886. 

DEATH SONG
EXTRACT

Ahead Calvin Taylor saw a break in the encircling hills. Once through there, he and the woman would be out on the open desert. They’d be home and dry; the Apaches would never run them down before they got to help. He angled the dun towards the middle of the gap, the woman heading that way also. They’d be through in a minute.
Then Taylor glimpsed horsemen, six or seven of them, coming into the gap from the far side; he knew then their luck was out. These horsemen were Sombra’s returning warriors, he could tell they were Apaches from their brightly coloured shirts. Even as he watched, the Indians must have spotted the two riders coming towards them and he heard Apaches yelling. The horsemen bunched and veered towards Taylor and the girl. They were all yelling now, the feral cries of a hunting pack.

To find out more, where to buy etc. see my Amazon author pages, Amazon.com:

And Amazon.co.uk:
And the Crowood Press website:


REVIEWS OF MY WORK GENERALLY:
‘Tough, taut and elegant… characterised by assured storytelling… the Calvin Taylor books are quietly remarkable for their subtle reinvention of the western, eschewing clichés… the writing is powerfully evocative of time and place.’
‘If McBride's stories can't bring the western back to life, then someone better call an undertaker.’
Of DEATH SONG: ‘I have derived immense pleasure from Andrew McBride’s superb sequence of ‘death’ westerns, ‘Canyon of the Dead,’ ‘Death Wears a Star and… ‘Death Song’. Like its predecessors, ‘Death Song’ is the real McCoy, a tautly written, impeccably researched novel that deals expertly with the themes of revenge and racial genocide. It’s also a cracking adventure yarn that deserves the widest possible audience.’  
As I say, I’ll be blogging about each re-issue separately over the coming weeks. Watch this space!

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