West Uist Chronicle – Keith’s blog

LONG SHADOWS by TERRY JAMES

This is a great Western novel published by a fellow Black Horse Western author, Jo Walpole, who writes as Terry James. Recently, Hale have reissued three of her Western novels as ebooks.Here is the first one, Long Shadows.


This is a really enjoyable page-turner of a Western. It features a strong female character and a strong square-jawed US marshal. Yet it is Ros West, the fiery redhead who carries the story. She has amnesia, but is struggling with memories that come back fleetingly. The story is told with panache and it keeps tempting you onwards as her past unfolds and gradually everything starts to come together. Having said that, the way things come together reveal past family schisms and a cartload of duplicity. There is danger all the way through, building to a great ending.

Bravo! I thoroughly recommend this novel and I am heading off to buy Terry James’ next one.

THE GATHERING MURDERS TRANSLATED INTO CZECH

Hello readers,

We are slighted to say that Keith Moray’s novel, The Gathering Murders, the first in the West Uist series has been published in Czech, under the title Vraždy na Hebridách.



All of us here at the West Uist Chronicle think it is a bonnie cover!

It was published in the Czech Republic on 29th January 2014 and here is a review. (Google translated from Czech)

Murders in the Hebrides ( Keith Moray )
Published: January 29, 2014 | 

Review by Michael Turková

Keith Moray Murder on HebridáchKdyž Ann Cleevesová proved that even the small Scottish islands can deliver quality thriller , has broken the way for other authors. Keith Moray chose Hebrides , namely fictional West Uist , so who read Shetland Black raven from Cleevesové may also compared.

The hero is the young inspector Torquil McKinnon, who is preparing for a bagpipe competition during the annual literary festival. He is known to his friends as Piper. The literary festival and highland gathering on the island brings a diverse mix of tourists, writers and fans to the island – and a mysterious villain, who, according to the prologue has just murdered their relatives. 

Keith Moray simply writes about the Scottish islands without frills, but is quite optimistic – a lot of Gaelic, golf and enthusiastic young people. However, police on the island consists of three people with a low average age, and none of them are  melancholy – but that does not want to touch Inspector Perez , I loved it and I hope that they come from other parts of Shetland series … But just cops Torquil , Morag and Ewan are quite balanced and happy nature.

We have , however, several candidates to be murdered. Fiona is a hot tip, the author of detective stories inspired by real cases and persons. Her next book is said to be about someone from the island Oddly enough, the first corpse will be a different kind of writer , also a participant of the festival, poet Ranald Buchanan.

New episodes investigation par excellence, západouistský police force is busy, and even have to take on auxiliary constables (although the Drummond twins only seem to share a brain cell.) Island is closed , no one is allowed to sail because, as possibly explained Sergeant Driscoll officer McPheeovi ” Ewan , dear, right now they are in the West Uist suspects absolutely everyone ! “

But as the investigation goes always slow addition of three people and an island full of suspects , it was necessary to increase the risk escalate adversity really dramatize the plot . Author accomplish the threat Dudáková superior that the quest have 24 hours – before they will lift the embargo , the suspects leave and arrive commander, will take over the case and the buggers . Time is running …

Murders in the Hebrides is a straightforward thriller that does not even attempt to play something else. Although they are quite manage to subtly show life on the island as it is today. When the modern era struggles with ancient legends and superstitions of the seal where men Selkie investigating inspector who travels around the island on a motorbike and a leather jacket. I enjoyed every page and in the spirit marveled at how the author managed to tangle ties and motives of a few key characters , as featured here . And until the last chapter, I believed that there was finally a Scottish thriller that is NOT depressed. I hope that we will see other cases pipers McKinnon and his two-member division – good reading can please , though rainbow ends and alpenglow …

Original: The Gathering Murders, 2006
Translation: Michal Frost
Published by: Lykeion , 2013
216 pages

JOHNNY GUITAR – AN UNUSUAL WESTERN MOVIE


“The Beauty and the Beast of westerns, a western dream,” 

Francois Trauffaut






I went to see this movie at a special showing at the Grand Theatre in Leeds last night. Before it started we had an introduction by Dr Lee Broughton, who is the Lever Trust Early Career Fellow in World Cinema at Leeds University.  He has studied the movie and provided a background to the Western movies of the period and highlighted just how unusual a movie it was, given the state of American politics and how they were reflected in the cinema in the 1950s. And indeed it is an unusual movie, with singing cowboys and female gunslingers.

It was made in 1954 by Republic Pictures, an independent studio. Nicholas Ray directed it and it starred Joan Crawford, Mercedes McCambridge, Sterling Hayden and Scott Brady. There were also a strong cast of Western stalwarts, including Ward Bond, Ernest Borgnine and John Carradine.

The screenplay was credited to Philip Yordan,  based on a novel by Roy Chanslor. But in fact, the screenplay was written by Ben Maddow, who had been blacklisted during the MacArthy era, because of past left-wing sympathies. Republic were making a lot of cheap movies and Maddow would have been offered the lower paid ‘blacklist rate.’ That was an interesting piece of social history, because it demonstrated that blacklisted writers could still work, but they just weren’t credited.

The plot is fairly simple, but it stands out because of the strong female characters and the reversal of the traditional Western movie roles. Also, the title song co-written by Peggy Lee and Victor Young, and sung by Peggy Lee is quite haunting.

In 2008 Johnny Guitar was selected for preservation in the United States Film Registry because it was considered to be culturally, historically and aesthetically significant. I can quite see why it was. It isn’t the greatest Western ever made, in my opinion, but it was unusual and it certainly made an impact on me.

THE NIGHT FOR WEARING THE BLACK DAGGER

Well folks, here we are, getting ready for Burns Night. Time to check the kilt, brush the sporran and make sure that the Sgian Dubh has none of last year’s haggis on the blade.

Only kidding there, because although my best Sgian Dubh has been used in the address to the haggis on many Burns Nights it is always washed thoroughly as such a respected dagger should be.

Sgian Dubh is Gaelic for the ‘black dagger’  (sgian, meaning dagger and dubh, meaning black.) This is pronounced skee-an-doo. It was called this because it was traditionally made from black bog oak. The one on the right in the picture is made of bog oak and the one on the left is made from deer horn. Note the jewels on the ends and the ornamentation. This was because the highlanders apparently distrusted paper money so carried their valuables on their person, as on the sgian dubh and in the form of their silver belt buckles and sporrans.

In the old days the sgian dubh would be concealed, except when visiting friendly neighbours. Then it would be removed from its concealed place and put somewhere visible – but still accessible – usually in the top of the stocking. On the right for a right sided man and on the left if you were left handed, hence its place there in traditional highland dress.

And so, in anticipation of tonight, you might have a glass of good Glen Corlan, or whatever your favourite malt whisky may be, and we wish you  slàinte math! This means ‘good health’. (It is pronounced as ‘slaancha vaa’).

THE GENIUS OF ROBERT BURNS

RAISE A GLASS OF SOMETHING ON BURNS NIGHT
It is Burns Night on the 25thJanuary. Here on West Uist we’ll be having a Burns supper and undoubtedly will be raising a glass or two in honour of Scotland’s national bard.
The Padre will most likely be addressing the haggis:

‘Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe or thairm;
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang’s my arm.’

A life well lived

Burns’ life was all too short. He died in 1796 at the age of 37, from a mixture of rheumatic heart disease and probable endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, thanks in part to dubious medical advice to bathe in the Solway Firth. Many biographers have said that his dissolute lifestyle caught up with him. In fact, it is likely that a Streptococcal infection entered his blood after he had a dental extraction in the winter of 1795. Poor nutrition was also a probable factor, for there were three months of food riots until March 1796. On the day of his funeral, which drew a crowd of many thousands, his widow, was giving birth to his fifth child, his son Maxwell. She was literally without a shilling to her name.

The poet’s lumps and bumps
Robert Burns was originally buried in St Michael’s Churchyard, Dumfries, in a simple grave, but his body was removed in 1817 and placed in a mausoleum built by public subscription. When his wife Jean died in 1834 the mausoleum was opened so that she could be laid beside him. Bizarrely, a plaster cast of his skull was then made to see whether phrenology could show where the genius of Robert Burns was located in his brain.



Phrenology was the name given to a school of thought devised by a certain Dr Gall in 1800. Essentially, it attempted to associate faculties of the mind with anatomical areas of the brain. It was at that time thought that the contours of the brain were mirrored by the contours and bumps on the skull. Interestingly, the phrenologist who did the examination, George Combe, one of the foremost practitioners commented that he had a remarkable degree of ‘philoprogenitiveness.’ This was a Victorian way of saying that he had a high sex drive. 


In this conclusion George Combe seems to have been correct, for Burns was known to have had a remarkably  active love life. Of course, phrenology is now known to be utter nonsense, yet if you are interested in the bizarre, if you go to the Robert Burns centre in Dumfries you will still see this curious exhibit.

Happy Burns Night.

DEAD MAN’S GAME

Hello readers,

The last adventure in the series of ebook short stories in The Casebook of Doctor Marcus Quigley is out now. These are written by Keith, using his western writer pen-name of Clay More.

Doctor Marcus Quigley, itinerant dentist, gambler and bounty hunter has been trailing a vicious murderer across the United States for several years. Now, when he has finally learned where his man is hiding, he hears that he has been shot and killed in a crooked poker game. Marcus makes his way to identify the corpse, only to learn that life has just become a lot more complicated – and dangerous!

THE SPIRIT OF HOGMANAY

Hello readers,

Well, Christmas is almost with us again, and after that we have the prospect of Hogmanay. As you know, Keith writes westerns under the name of Clay More. You may be interested to read his latest short story.

Western Fictioneers have two anthologies out in time for Christmas. These are respectively volumes 9 and 10 in the Wolf Creek series, written under the house name of Ford Fargo.

Book 9 A WOLF CREEK CHRISTMAS

Book 10 O DEADLY NIGHT

If you have followed the Wolf Creek novels so far, you will know that things are hardly ever as they seem. These are not chocolate box portrayals of Christmas in Kansas 1871, but a mixture of tales that will whet your appetite for more. They are both available from Amazon as paperbacks or ebooks for Kindle.

Clay More’s story, told from the point of view of his character, Doc Logan Munro the town doctor is called THE SPIRIT OF HOGMANAY. It is the penultimate story in Volume 10.

Wolf Creek, Book 10: 

Sarah’s Christmas Miracle
by Big Jim Williams
Irish Christmas at Wolf Creek
by Charlie Steel
A Home for Christmas
by Cheryl Pierson
The Angel Tree
by Chuck Tyrell
The Spirit of Hogmanay
by Clay More
O Deadly Night
by Troy D. Smith


Wolf Creek Book 9: 

The Last Free Trapper
by Jory Sherman
A Savior is Born
by Meg Mims
That Time of Year
by Jerry Guin
‘Twas the Fight before Christmas
by Jacquie Rogers
A Kiowa Christmas Gift
by Troy D. Smith
Renewal of Faith
by James J. Griffin

COME ON OVER TO WOLF CREEK

Hi readers,

As you probably now, Keith our associate editor writes all sorts of books. He writes crime novels set on West Uist under his pen-name of Keith Moray, historical crime as Keith Souter and westerns as Clay More. But he is also one of the bunch of writers who write under the name of Ford Fargo and who are creating the rip-roaring adventures in the Wolf Creek series. These are published by Western Fictioneers Library.

Wolf Creek is the brainchild of Dr Troy D Smith, an award winning writer in several genres and a professor of history at Tennessee Technical University. The novels are collaborative works in which five or six authors write a novel, each author writing one or two chapters from the viewpoint of his or her character. The novels are set in Kansas in 1871.

Keith or Clay’s character is Doctor Logan Munro, the town doctor. He actually wrote the first two chapters of the very first novel Wolf Creek: Book 1 – Bloody Trail. The series is really taking off and there are now eight books, seven or which are novels and one is an anthology. If you look at back posts on the blog, you’ll see Hell on the Prairie, which contains a short story by Clay, entitled The Oath. It is about a spectre from Logan Munro’s past.

The latest novel, Night of the Assassins was published on 22nd October and it is, if Clay says it himself, a real page-turner. But be warned, it is not a novel for the faint-hearted.

But why not start with the first one, Bloody Trail. They are all available as paperback or ebooks. There are some great writers involved in this. Many of them are leading lights in  the genre.

So why not come on over to Wolf Creek and see what you think of our town.

And while you are at it, you might like to check out the 6th short story in the Doc Marcus Quigley series. Marcus is a dentist, gambler and bounty hunter. He is on a quest to find a vicious murderer.
Available as an ebook from Amazon or Nook, published by High Noon Press.

30 YEARS THIS WEEK AND A WEDDING

Hello readers,

We have a couple of things that are exciting us in the office this week. Two events are happening on the same day – Friday 27th September.

Firstly, The Wakefield Express newspaper will be running a feature on Keith, who has just reached his 30th anniversary of writing his medical column, Doctor’s Casebook.

That is a weekly column for the last 30 years, during which time he has only missed a handful of articles.

But more importantly, it is his daughter’s wedding!

That means a classic car journey to church, proudly walking Ruth down the aisle to marry Joe, his father-of the-bride speech and much happiness.

Calum Steele
Keith Souter

THE SHOOTER – THE FIFTH DOC MARCUS QUIGLEY ADVENTURE

Hi Readers,

We are pleased to announce that the fifth adventure, from The Casebook of Dr Marcus Quigley, dentist, gambler and bounty-hunter is published today by High Noon Press as an eBook.
These are short stories in the tradition of the old pulps and the Saturday matinees. Each adventure is a stand-alone, but they build into a story about Marcus’s quest to find a cold-blooded killer.
Doctor Marcus Quigley, qualified dental surgeon, gambler and sometime bounty hunter has gradually been working his way west. 
His reasons for choosing such a lifestyle are personal and pressing, as well as expedient, for there is someone he means to track down and hold to account for a murder committed some years previously.


In THE SHOOTER Doc Marcus Quigley rides into Dawson with the aim of finding a woman whom he believes holds a clue about the murder of a friend of his. He quickly learns that a gang of gunmen are in control of the town and they stand firmly in his way.
He is forced to gamble for the lives of several people, himself included.


The plot, as you may have guessed, revolves around Marcus’s gambling activities and his knowledge of dice and mathematics. In particular the game of craps. If you don’t know about this, or much about dice, then you may care to check out Keith’s dice book. Lots of interesting information about dice games, including craps, dice lore and odds & probabilities. Armed with this knowledge you might even be able to become a shooter, like Marcus.

It is available here (check the sidebar on the left), or through Amazon as a paperback or eBook.

Calum Steele 
Editor

Keith Souter
Associate editor