THE PROUD HORSEMAN

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By Matt Chisholm
Mayflower, 1963

The McDaid’s came down from the high country, ruthless and strong. They killed his brother and invaded his grass.

He was alone, backed by treacherous friends, faced by powerful enemies. A man with sense would have forked his horse and got out of there but he didn’t have sense. He only had cold courage and a gun.

Like all the other books by Matt Chisholm I’ve read, this story moves forward at tremendous speed and is almost non-stop action. It’s a tale of a land grab as a superior force in the shape of the McDaid clan arrive in a valley filled with lush grass which is just what they need for their cattle. Only thing is Si and Jim Deverey live there, as do one or two other people and they won’t be pushed off what they see as their land. Shortly after a stand-off between the McDaid’s and the Deverey’s, Jim is found viciously beaten to death and Si hits the vengeance trail and soon finds himself blamed for the death of one of Lon McDaid’s sons, and the old man screams for revenge. It isn’t long before Si is wondering if there is a third party playing a hand in the killings, and if he is right then who is it and what is their motive?

The author has created a wonderful set of tough characters, both male and female, for this gripping read. One thing I like about Chisholm’s stories, is that you can never be sure of who will be alive or dead by the end, and that is certainly the case in this novel. There’s a couple of excellent twists and plenty of ‘how are they going to get out of that’ situations. I also like that Chisholm’s characters aren’t perfect shots and often miss their targets and that they don’t escape being hit by all the lead that is flying around. 

Chisholm’s work comes from a time when bad language wasn’t used in stories that much, if at all. There aren’t any sex scenes either, although I was surprised by the inclusion of a bit of nudity. The story is told over 154 pages, with 44 lines per page and chapters starting just a few lines below where the previous one finished, meaning you get a decent length read from a fairly slim book compared to those being published today.

Matt Chisholm is a pseudonym for English author Peter Watts, who also wrote westerns as Cy James and Luke Jones, and I recommend his books to all who enjoy action-packed westerns.

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