Special thanks to James Reasoner for contributing to this post.
This short-lived but great series premiered in 1995, still another in a long line of Adult Western books from Jove. The McMasters series lasted six books. Credited to Lee Morgan, several authors worked on the series, with the first one written by Giles Tippette. This series should have lasted much longer than six books. The cover artwork was cool and the stories were all solid, action-packed tales. Here’s a rundown on all six books.
McMasters # 1: Introducing Boyd McMasters, who goes on a vengeance spree after his wife is murdered. The traditional vengeance plot is handled well by Tippette and the pacing is solid. Boyd’s brother helps him get situated with the Cattleman’s Protective Association, that effectively puts him on the trail of outlaws. Armed with a custom built .70 caliber rifle, McMasters is a force to be reckoned with. I admit it was that custom rifle that hooked me. And McMasters has an edge.
McMasters # 2, Silver Creek Showdown: Written by James Reasoner, this one easily hooked me with its strong characterization and action. After Silver Creek Showdown I was hooked and happy about it. Everything was clicking here – great entertainment at every level. McMasters was officially added to my list of series westerns “to buy.” Silver Creek Showdown also sports one of the best covers (by “M. Kane.”) even if that Colt Single-action revolver is a blatant phallic symbol. I’m cool with that, and the babe is hot. McMasters is relaxing in the town of Silver Creek, Texas, when he gets an inkling about some missing cattle connected to Silver Creek’s largest ranch, the JF, and suddenly McMasters becomes a target. Big mistake considering he has that .70 caliber rifle. James Reasoner always delivers and Silver Creek Showdown has everything that you’ll want from a western paperback.
McMasters # 3, Plunder Valley: From this point on the covers, which I do enjoy, veer toward the type of artwork commonly associated with Harlequin Romance novels. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I’m wondering if that confused potential western fans and contributed to sluggish sales? Just speculation. McMasters is after Curly and Frank Dobbs, two bad-ass brothers who broke out of jail and killed a deputy. “bullet Boyd” McMasters is hot on their trail, and he’s hot for Sam, the local beauty. Traditional but fun, nothing here would have prevented me from buying additional titles in the series, and so I did.
McMasters # 4, Big .70: The fourth in the series was equally as entertaining as the preceding books; nothing spectacular, but on the mark for providing what I expected. Down in Smoke Tree, Arizona, people live in fear of some cattle rustlers, and that’s when Boyd McMasters shows up with his. 70 caliber rifle. McMasters doles out justice the way you expect, and anything less would be a let down.
McMasters # 5, Mexican Standoff: Boyd finds himself down in Rio Grande where a hardworking rancher named Ben Allison is losing cattle to some rustlers. McMasters lends a hand while finding time to dally with Margarita and Guadalupe which makes pages 124 through 130 of particular interest to connoisseurs of Adult Westerns. Rollicking, steadfast entertainment.
McMasters # 6, Violent Sunday: Up in Montana, McMasters is up against a group called “Hell Killers” and the action speeds up quickly. This one hit the racks in April, 1996, and I recall with clarity enjoying it, and then....nothing. I never found another McMasters book again. After googling it I learned that appears to have been the end of Boyd McMasters. His dalliance with the luscious Lydia Crane perhaps the last good tryst he enjoyed before riding off into the sunset.
Thanks to James Reasoner I learned that Giles Tippette wrote the first McMasters book, and Charlie McDade may have written one as well. In a previous post I mentioned the lack of qualified historical resources relating to Adult Westerns. The McMasters series is a good example of that. These books are part of our cultural history. I enjoyed them. I don’t see any reason not to acknowledge something that I enjoyed. Anyone with additional information regarding the authors on this series is free to contact me. Happy Trails!