Phil Dunlap, Western Author

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.