Book Review, Kill Crazy by William W. Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone

By MILT GROSS | Jul 13, 2014
Photo by: Milt Gross The action picture of the cowboy and his ‘shootin’ iron’ on the front cover is typical of the material found in Kill Crazy.

This father-and-son team of writers has produced a typical action western with Duff MacCallister, the marshall, fighting the gang of bad guys with a note from the bad guy leader’s brother, “We will kill more of your citizens if you do not let my brother go.”

The back cover states, “---lighting a fuse under Duff MacCallister that’s bound to ignite the biggest bloodiest showdown in Chugwater history...”

The name Chugwater for the town is the one thing I found to be a bit silly. Who would name their town Chugwater?

But the western is typical western with the good guys, the bad guys, and the innocents, including the beautiful Meagan Parker for whom Duff has fallen.

Even the very beginning is typically western, “The sound of a shot rolled down through the gulch, picked up resonance, then echoed back from the surrounding walls.” If you’re a reader of westerns, doesn’t that lead paragraph grab you by the reins and tug you to a comfortable western-reading chair?

While the tale features a bank robbery, a brother in jail, a brother who will not limit his crime to free his brother, and MacCallister’s taking care of all the bad guys, there is a side tale of an abandoned gold mine on the ranch that MacCallister had inherited.

“‘They say the place is hainted,’ R.W. Guthrie had told Duff when he’d first arrive in the territory....

“‘Course I ain’t sayin’ that I believe in haints, you understand. But that is what they say. Some say it wasn’t the Spanish, that it was injuns that first found the gold, but they was kilt off by white men who wanted the gold for themselves. But what happened is, after the injuns was all kilt, they become ghosts, and now they haint the mine and they kill any white man who comes around tryin’ to find the gold. Now mind, I don’t believe none of that. I’m just tellin’ you what folks says about it.’”

You can almost hear the vernacular as you read it, thanks to the imagination and writing skill of the Johnstones.

I suspect that it’s more this vernacular that you can almost hear more than the story itself that creates the magic of Kill Crazy.

William W. Johnstone has written over 200 books.

According to a page about the authors, “Bill, as he preferred to be called, began tutoring J.A. at an early age. After-school hours were often spent retyping manuscripts or researching his massive American Western History library as well as the more modern wars and conflicts. J.A. worked hard -- and learned.”

A fascinating father-and-son writing team. The only such team of which I’ve ever heard.

The back cover of this Pinnacle Books story gives the price at $7.50 in the U.S. lists this paperback at $6.75 or $5.38 for the Kindle Edition.

With price not being a problem, only your desire or lack of it to read a good traditional western will form your decision as to whether you will immerse yourself in Johnstones adventures in the Old West.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2013

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.