Phil Dunlap, Western Author

Monday, February 3, 2014


Lure of the Gun: THE WAIT IS OVER. THE FIRE STARTS NOW!: Cotton's Inferno, the latest Cotton Burke Western is now in bookstores and online, and fans of Sheriff Cotton Burke may be surprised at ...


Cotton's Inferno, the latest Cotton Burke Western is now in bookstores and online, and fans of Sheriff Cotton Burke may be surprised at the evil that he discovers man is capable of. The story starts in a tiny crossroads village in Texas when Carp Varner, a man with no conscious, destroys everything and everyone in sight over his loss at being elected mayor. His vindictive ways follow him wherever he goes, leaving pain and heartache in his wake.

Varner leaves with nothing but embers to remember him by. He thinks no one will ever know what he's done, but a young man that saw everything does know and, while he has no way of following since all the horses were destroyed, vows to go after the murderer on foot to find and pay him back for his evildoing. When the young man comes across a young woman, abandoned and nearing death from starvation, his quest is sidelined, at least temporarily, in order to save her life. A relationship grows and she joins him on his adventure to find Varner.

While Varner slowly makes his way toward Apache Springs, Sheriff Cotton Burke has his hands full with more problems created by his deputy's love interest, Melody Wakefield, the town's madam. Melody is so greedy that when she sees an opportunity to grab up a silver mine she believes is worth a fortune, she rushes in without getting all the facts. And of course gets burned.

When a town is built primarily of wood, the greatest danger is fire. Carp Varner's threat to burn Apache Springs if the town doesn't elect him to high office, puts the whole town on edge and the sheriff in a precarious situation.

Cotton's Inferno is available in paperback and ebook. It is published by Berkley Publishing. I hope you'll look it up.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Lure of the Gun: THE OLD WEST ACROSS THE BIG POND December is th...


December is th...
: THE OLD WEST ACROSS THE BIG POND December is the launch date for a new anthology of Western stories edited and gathered by Robert J. Ran...

December is the launch date for a new anthology of Western stories edited and gathered by Robert J. Randisi, one of our premier Western authors. Not only does Randisi have a short story in this collection, but he is also joined by myself, Johnny D. Boggs, John Nesbitt, Matthew Mayo, Nik Morton, Charles Whipple, Lori Van Pelt, Christine Matthews, Scott Parker, and several others. The collection is called Livin' on Jacks and Queens. It will be published as an ebook by Piccadilly Publishing, one of the UK's best loved Western publishers. And it's got a great cover, too, don't you think.

When Robert asked if I'd participate, I said I knew nothing about gambling. He said gambling spans a broad spectrum, even gambling with your life. After giving that some thought, I agreed to give it a whirl. And, as it turns out, he was right and I loved doing this story: A Cold Deck.

To be included in this anthology with the caliber of authors Mr. Randisi has gathered is a great feeling. Being surrounded by some of the best keeps this old boy thinking the Western is anything but a genre of the past, lost and forgotten. That'll never happen.

I think you'll like what you see in this nicely put together volume. I don't know yet whether it will be available on Amazon, but you can always go to the Piccadilly Publishing website (Google them) and order straight from the publisher. Let me know what you think.

I may even take up gambling, myself.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


That may be why I named it COTTON'S INFERNO (Berkley, February 2014).  This has been a pretty good year for my Western career, but this book could conceivably be the last in the 'Cotton Burke' series. Don't know yet, but I've got my fingers crossed that Sheriff Cotton Burke and his deputy, Memphis Jack, will be around for a while longer. I know it's rude to toot your own horn, but I think this book is one of the best I've written to date. Oh, there's always more than one favorite, but some definitely do stand out more than others. Maybe it's the way the story unfolds, particularly those that come like a ghost in the night, sneaking up on you and striking a special feeling that you've hit on something. That's kind of the way I feel about 'Inferno'.

As my stories always do, it involves several intertwining sub-plots that come together in ways unforeseen. This time, a terrible crime in Texas results in an entire town being burned to the ground, along with all its citizens. Now, before you gasp, the town, Whiskey Crossing, is a collection of four wooden buildings and a couple of tents. The man who sets the fire with the intention that none shall escape his wrath for failing to vote him into office as mayor, as insignificant as the office is since the town isn't even incorporated, is Carp Varner, a man who must have constant recognition. And when he doesn't get it, someone has to pay.

But, while Varner is certain no one could have lived through the inferno he set, an eighteen-year-old lad who was hauling manure from the livery to the town dump at the time of the conflagration, does survive and sets out to right the wrong done by Varner, vowing on his own life to wreak vengeance on the man. Setting out on foot to find Varner brings him several life-changing events on his way. And an attractive partner, to boot.

And, lest we forget a constant thorn in Sheriff Cotton Burke's side, the town's madam, Melody Wakefield, Memphis Jack's squeeze, does one of her usual dumb things by buying a played out silver mine, about which she knows nothing. She gets taken by a wily old codger who then gets himself killed and robbed. Twists and turns, many twists and turns.

I hope you'll be on the lookout for this one in February, 2014.

Friday, November 9, 2012


When AmazonEncore bought all the assets of Avalon Books, where I'd had a number of Westerns published, I wasn't certain what my future might hold. I had a new Piedmont Kelly novel that had been sitting in Avalon's que for some time. Then, out of the blue, Amazon started sending me contracts, forms to sign, the manuscript to revise, and cover art to approve. After waiting for such a long time for Apache Lawman to possibly see the light of day, suddenly it was about to be come reality. Thrilled? You bet.

I've loved doing the U.S. Marshal Piedmont Kelly series and the fifth installment was one I was particularly fond of because it offered a new dimension to Spotted Dog, the Chiricahua Apache who was saved from certain death by Marshal Kelly. As their friendship grows, so does the trust between them and Kelly finds the old Indian's skills at tracking so superior to his own, he is willing to go to General Crook and ask that the Apache be allowed to accompany him away from the reservation on a permanent basis, thus effectively making him a free man, unconfined by governmental constraints or arbitrary borders.

Apache Lawman brings many new and different story elements to the forefront in my attempt to portray not just Indians, but others in unfortunate situations, as worthy of having their stories told.

Apache Lawman is available as of November 13 at You can go directly to my Author page at:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lure of the Gun: The New Frontier or?

Lure of the Gun: The New Frontier or?: Life is just full of surprises, isn't it? My latest surprise came when I received an e-mail informing me that my long-time hardcover publish...