Saturday, June 25, 2011

Charles Gramlich, Killing Trail

Thanks to Louis L’Amour for inspiring Charles Gramlich to turn his hand to the writing of western stories. He brings to life a sharp sensibility for L’Amour’s kind of hero, with a clean, elegant style of writing. Like his heroes, it never fusses over niceties or formalities and cuts, without apology, right to the chase.

Which is not to say his stories are all about chases. But there’s an unrelenting forward movement in them, an intensity that doesn’t let up. The man at the center of each story is driven by determination – to survive, to repay injustice, maybe even win the heart of a woman.

Most of the time, this means going it alone, against all odds. To journey with a Gramlich hero is to know the loneliness of the solitary horseman on a perilous mission. At almost any moment, he can kill or be killed. And for the most part, there is no one to miss him or even bury him should he fail.

Gramlich's stories navigate well the broad stream of western fiction that pits the lone gunman against villainy and treachery. The values he upholds are the uncompromising ethic of free men defending the rights of honorable men and women to live freely in the world. Where violence is used to subvert those rights, violence inevitably must come to the rescue.

These stories capture that world without a single misstep. Reading them, you take pleasure in the writer’s mastery of the genre. If you haven’t yet treated yourself to Gramlich’s way with a western story, you can find Killing Trail now for both the kindle and the Nook.

And prepare to read them just one at a time. They have that kind of impact.

Coming up: Old West glossary, no. 13


  1. I have this on my Nook, and I'm looking forward to digging into it. I was fortunate enough to spend an evening in Charles' company this past week while working in New Orleans. A fine and interesting man to spend time with!

  2. Ron, thanks for the kind words. You captured exactly what my intent was with these stories. I'm glad it came through, and glad you enjoyed.

    And Chris, good hanging out with you the other day. Take care, my friend.

  3. KILLING TRAIL was the first indie book on my Kindle and the first Gramlich western fiction I read. With tidy intros and intriguing fragments of longer work, this collection is as unique as it is desirable. Thanks for the good review, Ron.

  4. Thanks, Ron. I'm going to download it for my Kindle and read them on my hols in a couple of weeks time.

  5. Thanks, Richard, and David. David, I hope you enjoy.

  6. TRAIL was one of the first books I bought on Kindle and along with Chris F. Holm's 8 POUNDS the reason I published the Cash & Miles collection. I wanted an eBook that looked as good as Mr. Gramlich's and packed the same wallop.

    (Btw my favorite story features a character named Cranmer.)