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The late author/teacher Oakley Hall (Warlock, Apache, Love and Death in California, et al) once remarked in my presence after being asked when his next book would emerge “When something pisses me off enough.” Nik Morton is obviously of the same stamp. In A Sudden Vengeance Waits, it’s the too-soft criminal justice system that raises his ire. In Bullets For a Ballot, it’s the oppression of women.

I had just completed a review of Vengeance, thinking it was his latest. However, I found that Bullets For A Ballot was newer, so turned to that work so my reviews would be current with today’s Writer Working Interview. Surprise.


I suddenly found myself not in modern England but in 1869 Wyoming territory (Little known fact: Wyoming was the first “state” to legalize women’s suffrage. Did so when still a territory in 1869.). Morton opens with a clash between a poor widow and a gang of hooligans about to burn her out of house, home and, indeed, life itself. It’s a familiar dilemma in western literature, and the ensuing story line of Bullets follows a rather standard western formula with some extremely interesting modern variations. In some ways, one might take the novel as a Louis L’Amour work, and I mean that as a hearty compliment. The characters are vivid, not too complicated, the conflicts straightforward, every page full of excitement. It’s a book constantly on the move, seldom pauses to take a breath. There is a lot more sex than L’Amour ever portrayed, and there is that steady drumbeat of protest against discrimination. L’Amour didn’t indulge in much polemic. Still Morton’s pages share with L’Amour’s the authentic feel of western adventure and the relentless, irresistible narrative drive.

Given just these two books, I don’t know another author who ranges this far in time, space, and language and does so as convincingly as Morton. He’s an accomplished writer, a man with causes to promote, and he deserves applause on both counts. I cast my ballot (no bullets, please) for him and his extensive body of work.

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