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Charlie Steel

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Desert Heat, Desert Cold and Other Tales of the West
by Charlie Steel   

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Publisher:  Condor Publishing, Inc. ISBN-10:  1931079064


Copyright:  August 2009 ISBN-13:  9781931079068

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Official Site of Charlie Steel Author and Tale-Weaver Extraordinaire
Condor Publishing, Inc.

The anthology is a collection of seventeen traditional and contemporary western short stories by award-winning author Charlie Steel.

No matter the challenge or adversity, Charlie Steel’s protagonists attempt to do what is right. They are caught in disputes beyond their control and must utilize inner strength and faith as they struggle for survival.   Set mostly in the Front Range of the Colorado Mountains with its searing heat, numbing cold, limitless sky, endless prairie, and rising peaks--the land itself becomes a character. The stories are thrilling and unforgettable.  When the last page is turned the reader will be disappointed that the journey has ended.

Professional Reviews

The western is a hallmark of American fiction, and Charlie Steel brings readers a collection of his own. "Desert Heat, Desert Cold, and Other Tales of the West" is a collection of short western fiction as Steel brings readers many samplings of the Western front, with the elements that western fans have learned to love over the years. "Desert Heat, Desert Cold, and Other Tales of the West" is a choice pick for fans of the western.

WWA (Western Writers of America) member Steel offers seventeen short stories in this new anthology, with evocative silhouette illustrations by Gail Heath. Eight of the tales appear here for the first time, four have appeared previously in the National Congress of Old West Shootists’ publication The Shootist, two each in The Lakeshore Guardian of Michigan and the on-line magazine Rope and Wire, and one in the late, lamented Storyteller: Canada’s Short Story Magazine.
The stories range from entertaining to memorable to the kind that stick in your craw…this reviewer is not precisely sure where his craw is located, but when a story gets stuck there, he knows that it’s stuck, and that’s certainly true with one like Steel’s “The Edge,” among others.

Steel lists his masters as James Oliver Curwood, Zane Grey, Max Brand, L’Amour, and Jack London, but to this reviewer, there’s more than a touch of Ambrose Bierce in some of the shorter tales---and I’m hardly one to complain about that!

There’s also just as much of the round-the-campfire flavor to these yarns as there is of the old pulps----and either quality is a high recommendation, from my side of the fire.

Rope and Wire Review
At the base of Greenhorn Mountain in Southern Colorado, a prolific writer pounds the keys. For over 40 years, celebrated western author, Charlie Steel, has poured out his heart and soul in the form of the written word. Charlie Steel can write, no doubt about it. Just take a look between the covers of his newest book, Desert Heat, Desert Cold and Other Tales of the West.

You will find no truer testament of a man who has mastered his craft, than with the title story of this book, Desert Heat, Desert Cold. Its main character, Sandy, beaten, robbed, and left to die, is determined to turn the tables on his would be killers. The story takes you on a trek across a hot and arid desert. The details of Sandy’s slow and painful journey will leave you searching for a tall glass of cool water.

From the desert’s scorching heat, to the bitter cold of a raging winter storm, in the story Mountain Man Comes Home, Mike Pardee learns that “Grass is not always sweeter on the other side of the fence” as he finds that life in town, married to a woman who doesn’t love him back, is more than he can take. Eventually heading back to his rustic mountain cabin, he finds what he had been searching for, in the middle of a blinding snowstorm.

Something in the Woodpile is a humorous tale about a packrat going about his business, as only packrats tend to do. When small, but important objects begin to come up missing, the accusations fly. It brings to light the ease we have as humans to accuse others when things are not as they should be, even before we have all the facts, and as you shall see, sometimes with disastrous consequences.

All of the stories are well thought out and masterfully written. I found them very enjoyable and easy to read. The book held my attention from the first page to the last, and with me, that’s not always an easy thing to do.

Throughout this book I found a central theme that bound these stories together as a single unit. It’s the theme of relationships. How we treat each other, react to each other, and especially how we handle ourselves and our relationships as we deal with unusual situations and the pressures of everyday life.

Charlie Steel keeps it interesting, keeps it lively, and most of all, he keeps it entertaining. If you enjoy reading western short stories as much as I do, you’ll enjoy Desert Heat, Desert Cold and Other Tales of the West.
-Scott Gese, Rope and Wire publisher

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