OUT NOW: Sherlock Holmes and the King of Clubs by Steve Hayes and David Whitehead

Sherlock Holmes and the King of Clubs by Steve Hayes and David WhiteheadSteve Hayes is a prolific novelist and also has enjoyed a fantastic career as a screenwriter in America.

David Whitehead has lived in London his whole life and can lay claim to a large body of work for Robert Hale.

To read what Hayes and Whitehead think of writing as a team, click here for our interview.

Sherlock Holmes and the King of Clubs by Steve Hayes and David Whitehead

A brazen daylight robbery at Christie’s becomes the talk of London, but Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are no longer in the business of solving crime. Holmes has retired to Sussex, to keep bees, and Watson, recently widowed, has returned to general practice. But when Watson, desperate for distraction, agrees to accompany his old friend to Vienna, to visit eminent neurologist, Sigmund Freud, it is not long before the pair are pulled back into the murky world of ruthless criminals bent on abduction, intimidation and murder.

A shadowy terrorist group, The Black Hand, is plaguing the city, and when the tentacles of a crime committed in England reach across to Vienna to cil around Harry Houdini, the famous American escapologist, the Great Detective and his Boswell relish the chance of solving yet another puzzle.

Praise for the series

‘An entertaining addition to the genre. Recommended.’ – Historical Novels Review

‘Will more than satisfy the Holmes fans’ – Shotsmag

‘A fast-paced and intriguing tale’ – MyShelf.com

Sherlock Holmes and the King of Clubs by Steve Hayes and David Whitehead is available to buy now with a limited time only discount of 30%

Sherlock Holmes and the King of Clubs by Steve Hayes and David Whitehead

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July’s Black Horse Western Titles

For all your Wild West action and drama, check out one of this month’s great Black Horse Western titles:  She Wore a Badge by Steve Hayes, Monty McCord by Chuck Tyrell, Blood Money by D. D. Lang, Horse Soldier’s Return by James Del Marr, Whiplash by Owen G. Irons and Backshooter by Dale Graham.

OUT NOW: March’s Black Horse Western Titles

This month’s Black Horse Western titles are: Bull’s Eye Stage Coach by Billy Hall, Devil’s Deal by Lee Walker, Genesis Gunplay by John Davage, Latigo by Steve Hayes, Navajo Sunrise by Ethan Flagg and The Prisoner of Gun Hill by Owen G. Irons.

So for all your Wild West action and drama, check out one of these great titles today…

OUT NOW: Sherlock Holmes and the Knave of Hearts by Steve Hayes and David Whitehead

Sherlock Holmes and the Knave of Hearts by Steve Hayes and David WhiteheadSteve Hayes is a prolific novelist and also has enjoyed a fantastic career as a screenwriter in America.

David Whitehead has lived in London his whole life and can lay claim to a large body of work for Robert Hale.

Praise for the book:

‘Will more than satisfy the Holmes fans’ – Shotsmag

‘A fast-paced and intriguing tale’ – MyShelf.com

Sherlock Holmes and the Knave of Hearts by Steve Hayes and David Whitehead Synopsis

Following a prolonged cocaine binge, Sherlock Holmes is closer to death than Dr Watson has ever seen him before. Fearing for his friend’s wellbeing, the pair repair to France, there to enjoy a leisurely convalescence at the home of Holmes’s old friend, Henri Gillet.

But even before they reach Paris they become embroiled in a perilous mystery of the like even they have never encountered before. Who, for example, is the strange man with the peculiar fascination for raindrops? And why does someone want one of France’s most beloved novelists dead? Before the final explosive confrontation, Holmes and Watson must tangle with a cold and calculating brotherhood for which no crime is too ghastly, especially if it helps to further their own sinister ends…

Sherlock Holmes and the Knave of Hearts by Steve Hayes and David Whitehead is out now with a limited time only discount of 30%.

Sherlock Holmes and the Knave of Hearts by Steve Hayes and David Whitehead

Black Horse Western Series: The Appeal of the Wild West

BHWThe Black Horse Western series has provided Robert Hale Ltd readers with drama, action and suspense over the years. Here, some of Robert Hale’s Black Horse Western authors tell us why they love writing westerns and what it is that they love about the genre.

Paul Green

The Gun Runners by Paul GreenI have always enjoyed reading westerns and watching western films because the genre covers such a broad range of themes. It is possible to write about revenge, betrayal, love, greed, redemption and a host of other issues. The historical background provides a lot of rich material for writers as the West was going through a time of rapid change in the late nineteenth century. The violent and often lawless nature of the society can be drawn on to produce stories that contain conflict, action and suspense.

‘Writing westerns enables me to escape into a completely different world’ – Paul Green

Writing westerns enables me to escape into a completely different world which is as much about the mythical west of the imagination as the real one inhabited by actual people. I enjoy creating stories in which characters must win gunfights, face bandits and cross vast deserts on horseback while safe in the knowledge that I will never have to do any of these things myself. Westerns provide all the drama I could wish for without having to leave home.

The Gun Runners by Paul Green is available to pre-order now

Steve Hayes

Drifter by Steve HayesI’ve always loved westerns. As a boy growing up in London during the Blitz, my favorite game was playing Cowboys and Indians on the rubble of bombed-out buildings. My favorite movie stars included many western heroes, such as John Wayne, Joel McCrae, Audie Murphy and Randolph Scott; and two of my favorite films were Red River and Stagecoach.

‘As a boy growing up in London during the Blitz, my favorite game was playing Cowboys and Indians on the rubble of bombed-out buildings’ – Steve Hayes

When I came to the States in 1949 as an actor, Westerns were in and through my close friendship with Errol Flynn I became friends with many famous western writers like Borden Chase, Louis L’Amour and William Bowers. At their urging, I decided to start writing westerns myself. My first story became a movie called Escort West. After that I turned to TV and began writing shows like How the West Was Won, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Maverick, The Westerner, etc. I found I could express my ideas of justice, fair play and gentile treatment of women in westerns more than any other medium. Westerns also fit my terse style of writing.

Today, even though I write other genres as well, my true love is still westerns.

Drifter by Steve Hayes is available to pre-order now

Terrell Bowers

Invite to a Showdown by Terrell BowersWesterns are in my blood. From the first movies I ever saw to Saturday Westerns on television, I remember heroes like Hopalong Cassidy, Sunset Carson, Johnny Mack Brown and Bob Steel. Through the years I graduated to the more modern screen heroes like John Wayne, Gary Cooper, James Stewart and Clint Eastwood. I played cowboys from the time I could walk until my early teens, had my own horse and gun from the time I was eight. Grasshoppers, mice and wasps could not escape my BB gun and I began shooting for real at twelve.

One of the things I try to do as an author is stick to history. That means the guns, means of transport, and often some actual history is included in a number of my stories. I don’t read a lot of fiction, but I do read a lot of history and personal stories of triumph or sacrifice during the 1850-1880 years. My own great grandmother, Mary Goble Pay, was part of a handcart company that came from England to Utah in 1846. During their journey, they were too late in making the trip and suffered from the cold and snowstorms and hunger. At thirteen, she lost her mother, a baby brother and another brother during that bitter ordeal. All of her toes were frozen and had to be amputated. Reading her journal still brings tears to my eyes, but she endured to have a bunch of kids and teach Indians to speak English.

‘After a couple hundred books, I grew tired with some of the characters and plots. I wanted more humor and more he and she action so I started to write my own’ – Terrell Bowers

When I was out of high school, my dad got me interested in reading Westerns. After a couple hundred books, I grew tired with some of the characters and plots. I wanted more humor and more he and she action so I started to write my own. It took me 15 years of rejections slips and a dozen failed titles until I finally got published in 1979. A few years later I discovered Hale Books and landed a few titles with them. I still enjoy writing about the Western era, an innocent time when one man could make a difference.

Invite to a Showdown by Terrell Bowers is available to pre-order now

Chuck Tyrell

Road to Rimrock by Chuck TyrellThe news that western novels are dead or dying comes along every decade or so – news that is greatly exaggerated.

Many western novelists say they grew up on a diet of Gunsmoke and Wanted Dead or Alive with a smattering of Bonanza. I grew up where much of the West happened. My granddad earned enough money making charcoal for the silver mines in Nevada to buy four sections of range in Arizona, some land along Show Low Creek, and to add more, he homesteaded 160 acres in a place called Fool’s Hollow where the country club is now located. We always had horses and cows and pigs and chickens. We raised our own truck. We raised corn for us and for our animals. We branded and castrated and earmarked and swabbed it all with pine tar oil to keep the blowflies away. In other words, I lived my boyhood in circumstances not far removed from those I write about.

‘I lived my boyhood in circumstances not far removed from those I write about’ – Chuck Tyrell

When settlers moved into a new territory and set up a new town, chances are the first public building was a church, the second a school. They were there to build a life. They had strong ideas of right and wrong. They worked from dawn ‘til dark just to get along. And sometimes they couldn’t make it. But most of the time they could.

My western stories are often not quite as bloody as some. Most of them are about people I could have called neighbor in my boyhood years. Most of them could have worked side by side with my granddad. I respect these people. I believe their will to build a life would serve us well today. And I hope my stories may influence some reader to try a little harder and to realize that one person really can make a difference.

Road to Rimrock by Chuck Tyrell is available to pre-order now

Sherlock Holmes and the Queen of Diamonds Review on MyShelf

In the recent Myshelf review of Sherlock Holmes and the Queen of Diamonds, written by Hale writing team Steve Hayes and David Whitehead, the book was called “refreshing” and “different”.

“…you can expect a fast-paced and intriguing tale with plenty of action and a good feel for the seamy side of Victorian London.”

Read the full review at MyShelf

To see what Hayes and Whitehead think about writing as a team, check out our author interview with the pair.

SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE QUEEN OF DIAMONDS – SYNOPSIS

Thomas Howard of Missouri came out of nowhere, one foggy night, to rescue Countess Elaina Montague from rape and robbery. He was in England, he said, to find his brother, who had disappeared. To repay him, the beautiful Countess offered to enlist her friend, Sherlock Holmes, to help in the search.

At the time Holmes was investigating a rash of audacious jewel-thefts, and much to Watson’s dismay spending altogether too much time at the music-hall. But because the Great Detective felt that there was more to the mysterious Mr Howard than met the eye, he accepted the case.

This in turn led to their involvement in a vicious blood-feud, a spectacular – not to mention death-defying – daylight robbery, the possibility of a serious diplomatic incident and finally, a thrilling climax below the brooding River Thames.

Sherlock Holmes and the Queen of Diamonds is out now in hardback

Author Interview: Steve Hayes and David Whitehead Discuss Sherlock Holmes and Writing as a Team

Sherlock Holmes and the Queen of Diamonds was released by Robert Hale last month and sees Holmes brought in to help a friend track down a missing person. Authors Steve Hayes and David Whitehead talk about what it’s like to write as a team and what drew them to Sherlock Holmes.

How did your writing partnership come about and what made you want to write as a team?

David: Steve had written a Black Horse Western called Gun for Revenge, which I enjoyed very much. A mutual friend named Tom McNulty, who saw the review I posted to the Yahoo Black Horse Westerns group, mentioned it to Steve. Steve emailed me to say thanks and I guess we both just clicked from there. As our friendship grew we discovered that there were certain subjects or projects we were both drawn to, and the idea to collaborate sprang from that. It’s an amazing thing—here is one half of the team in sunny California, the other in not-so-sunny Suffolk, England. We’ve never met but have spent countless hours on the phone and indeed talk every day. While we are in many ways complete opposites, it’s those very differences that somehow gel to make a very happy and productive whole.

Steve: Exactly. This is a partnership that almost didn’t happen. As David mentioned, but for McNulty I never would have read the review or contacted David. Once I did, and we got to know each other, I realized he was as serious about writing as I was and did not expect me to do all the work, as other collaborators have in the past. I’ve written with many famous writers, some who have won Academy Awards, and so I was well-tutored in the ways of collaboration. I just needed to know that Dave was a true professional. After that, the rest was easy.

What are the ups and downs of writing as a team?

David: I think it can easily become a perilous path if you don’t have the right attitude going into it. Steve and I both park our egos at the door. Neither one of us has any desire to upstage the other. If one of us comes out with a particularly dazzling idea or turn of phrase, that’s great, because it reflects well on the other one. There is of course much discussion and a fair bit of give and take, but overall I believe we have enjoyed a very cordial and productive partnership which has so far resulted in twelve books and a number of related projects.

Steve: As all good writers know: “You have to be willing to kill your babies.” David and I are. We also know that there will always be other stories that a special phrase or line of dialogue can fit into. As a pro—especially in television or screenwriting—the term “Nothing is written in stone” becomes a mantra.

Steve Hayes

What drew you to writing about Sherlock Holmes?

David: I’ve been a Holmes fan for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first pastiche, The Adventure of the Pentonville Twins, when I was just fifteen. But Sherlock Holmes didn’t really feature in our plans until Steve mentioned one day that he’d had an idea for a Sherlock Holmes story. Actually, at that point, Steve saw the project more as a western in which Holmes appeared. I saw it more as a Holmes story in which there were some western influences. We took it from there.

Steve is absolutely fearless, as anyone who knows him will tell you. But I myself approached the project with considerable trepidation. I certainly didn’t want us to produce a story that would in any way offend the Holmes purists. I wanted it to be as close to the style and spirit of Conan Doyle as possible, but not merely an imitation. If you’re not careful, it’s very easy to make these things seem contrived. I’ve read plenty of pastiches where the authors have tried too hard to capture Watson’s distinctive voice. Some of Holmes’s deductions in these books, which were of course so brilliantly described in the originals by Conan Doyle, often come across as somewhat laboured or deliberately manufactured. We didn’t want to fall into those same traps. We wanted Holmes’s solving of the mystery to seem entirely natural, the result of his great intellect, wide-ranging knowledge and ability to simply observe. As a result, I believe we ended up with a very good, very original story that will hopefully please Holmes fans of every stripe … plus those readers who simply enjoy a good Victorian mystery!

Steve: I’m not the fan of Holmes that David is. By that I mean I didn’t know that much about the character other than what I’d seen in movies. I’m old enough to have been in Hollywood in the Golden Era and I got to meet Basil Rathbone several times. He was Sherlock Holmes in my eyes. And has been ever since. Having David’s knowledge of Doyle’s Holmes and his background turned what I saw as a western for Brad Pitt (my agent got good feedback from his people, who said Brad was interested in playing Jesse James; which he did finally, although that particular movie tanked) eventually became a genuine Holmes’ story. Holmes’ fans can thank David for that.

With all the new stories, film and TV adaptations, how do you think Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would react to the Sherlock Holmes phenomenon that his stories created?

David Whitehead

David: Well, we don’t really have to speculate, because the phenomenon began in Doyle’s own lifetime. As we know, he always considered Holmes to be a distraction from his true calling as a serious historical novelist, and he came to resent Holmes because of that. I don’t really think he ever fully understood just what the character meant to the public, and indeed, when he killed Holmes off, he did so “even if I buried my bank account with him.” And you can see why. It’s a bit like asking an artist to paint the same still life every day—after a while there’s just no challenge in it. Now, when Steve and I finished writing Sherlock Holmes and the Queen of Diamonds, we went straight into a supernatural adventure called Cast a Deadly Shadow, which was about as far removed from Holmes as you could get.Steve: I think Doyle would be delighted. Variety is the spice of life, isn’t it?

What is your favourite Sherlock Holmes story, and why?

David: Definitely The Hound of the Baskervilles. It is just perfection on every level, though some of the Devonshire geography is a bit questionable! It has a wonderful legend, a cruel and cunning villain, a great location, some wonderful examples of Holmes’s deductive abilities, a fantastic cast of characters, more red herrings than a fishmonger’s stall and, perhaps most importantly, a wholly satisfying denouement. It truly is one of the great stories of all time, in my opinion. The only irony is that Holmes himself is largely absent for most of the book.

Steve: I don’t have one. But The Hound of the Baskervilles is as good as any.

What do you think are the key ingredients to making a great piece of crime fiction?

David: Originality. Pace. Credible characters caught up in relatively incredible events. Something that’s just a bit different.

Steve: I agree. But also the opening “hook” is vitally important. It’s important in any genre, but in mystery or crime fiction is it is vital if you want to keep the reader’s interest. That was hammered into me in every production meeting of every television show or movie I ever wrote. Hook the reader/viewer, give them fascinating characters, and keep up the pace and everyone goes home happy and satisfied. Even the poor lowly writer!

Sherlock Holmes and the Queen of Diamonds is out now in hardback