Book Review: Diamondback: Shroud of Vengeance

March 26, 2018

Pick a Saturday afternoon, any Saturday afternoon, and grab your favorite beverage and perhaps a good cigar. Settle in for a couple of hours and enjoy Pike Bishop’s Diamondback: Shroud of Vengeance. This is an adult Western, the 1970s and 1980s version of a pulp Western, and it’s just old-fashioned fun. It’s the type of book that ends a chapter with an “!”.

Cord Diamondback, the classic Western cliché good guy, with just the right amount of a dark edge to him, is fast with his fists, fast with his gun and fast with women. He’s been called to New Mexico’s Blood River County where it is hoped that his physical talents, along with his knowledge of the law (having attended Harvard Law), can save the miners, the mines, Judge Morgan and, of course, the lives of more than one beautiful, smart and willing young woman. Is the mine worth a fortune, or quickly going dry? Will the miners survive a winter without food and shelter, or even survive the Apache attacks long enough to make it to winter? Will Cord live through the murder charges and the lynch mob? Will he survive a deadly Apache gauntlet, the gun runner Jemel Sullivan and the classically evil mine owner Odin Lassen?

Diamondback: Shroud of Vengeance is the sixth in a series of nine Cord Diamondback books. I’m looking forward to reading the other eight.

The author, Paul “Pike” Bishop has published fifteen novels, with quite a few more in progress. As a thirty-five-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, including more than twenty-five years in sex crimes investigation and twice being named LAPD’s Detective of the Year, Paul’s expertise has naturally led him to write about crimes and more specifically, interrogation, which was his specialty. His most recent book (and my favorite), Lie Catchers, is the first in what will hopefully be a long series featuring a couple of distinguished LAPD interrogators: Ray Pagan and Calamity Jane Randall.

Paul lives in Southern California, happily married to his high school sweetheart, and when he’s not writing or teaching interrogation classes to police departments around the country, he willingly and happily shares his expertise with young writers.

Diamondback was Paul’s first break, his first novel. As an “adult” Western, the publishers required, as all publishers of adult Westerns did at the time, at least two graphic sex scenes. While Paul was uncomfortable writing them, and hasn’t done it since, the opportunity was too important to pass up, so write them he did.

My favorite line from the book…

“My brother told me he’d meet me in hell, Mr. Diamondback, but he didn’t realize I’d been living there for years.”