Sunday, May 31, 2009

Heavenly Hands (Shelter Western series #27) by Paul Lederer writing as Paul Ledd

Following a morning ménage à trois, Shelter Morgan interrupts his vacation and heads out to California on his latest assignment for General Pomfret and the U.S. government: to stop a band of primarily ex-Confederate outlaws who are raiding settlements.

On the train, Shell meets a beautiful widow named Tabatha Saint and is more than somewhat taken aback when she states her late husband was killed by none other than Shelter Morgan! Good thing Shell had already decided to go undercover with the name Jim Crook and infiltrate the gang from within, or this relationship might have gone nowhere.

It turns out the leader of the outlaw gang is operating under Shelter's name. "Why" is a question Shell will have to find the answer to much later on. But it's an intriguing one, with an eye-opening view into Shelter's past.

It wouldn't be entirely amiss to assume that author Paul Ledd (pseudonym of Paul Lederer) was getting tired of his Shelter Western series by the time he wrote the 27th book, Heavenly Hands, especially since he would write only three more Shelter Morgan novels before handing the series over to Robert J. Randisi, who would finish it with three more.

Ledd sometimes seems more interested in being provocative than in giving the reader a full-bodied story, but Heavenly Hands is still a decent read. There's plenty of bullets and bloodshed along the way, with Shelter befriending an Indian after he refuses to mow down a tribe in cold blood. Shell's relationship with Tabatha is also interestingly written. The story is slow in parts, but with an action-filled double finale and a mind-boggling shocker of a twist, the destination is well worth the trip.


James Reasoner said...

Lederer is a consistently interesting writer, and after a long absence from publishing, he's doing new novels for the Black Horse Western line under the name Owen G. Irons. If you haven't checked out his series SPECTROS, under the pseudonym Logan Winters, I highly recommend it. Truly offbeat Westerns.

Craig Clarke said...

Thanks for the tip, James. I wasn't aware of those pseudonyms, and I'm eager to try something else by Lederer (who I'm happy to learn is still going strong).

Joe Lansdale said...

Enjoyed the interview, looking forward to guest blogging. Keep up the good work, and let me know when it's posted.

paul lederer said...

Again--I created SHELTER and wrote the first 26 volumes of this series. I was then dumped without any notification I take no credit for nor blame for any SHELTER novel after #26.
Incidentally, the series soon tanked.
Paul Lederer

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