Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Tales from Deadwood -- Mike Jameson

Let's be clear about one thing from the outset: there's no connection between this book and the TV series Deadwood. And let's be clear about something else: the publishers would love for you to think there's a connection between this book and the TV series Deadwood.

Now that we have that out of the way, let's talk about the book, which is by that hot new writer Mike Jameson, who looks a lot like that hot, slightly older writer James Reasoner. Even though it's clearly a set-up for more books to follow, it's a dandy historical novel and damned fine entertainment. It mixes the expected historical characters (Wild Bill Hickok, Colorado Charley Utter, Al Swearengen, Calamity Jane, etc.) with some fictional ones (Dan Ryan, Bellamy Bridges), and you can bet their lives with intertwine in the forthcoming books in the series. What I liked best about Tales from Deadwood was the surprising ways the characters developed: Dan Ryan's unlikely romance, Bellamy Bridges' changing from an innocent farm boy to something else, Fletch Parkhurst's apparent rejection of a certain way of doing things, and so on. There's plenty of interesting material here for further stories.

One thing I like a lot about the TV series (to which this book is not connected in any way) is the way some of the episodes conclude. The book's epilogue captures a certain mood as well as the pictures on my screen do, and maybe even better. Some top-notch writing here by Mr. Jameson. I'm really looking forward to reading more in this series.

I just have one question for Mr. Jameson. Where the heck did that cover come from? It certainly doesn't depict a scene in the novel, or anything resembling a scene in the novel. That was a shabby trick by the publisher because with a classier cover and better packaging (which it certainly deserves), Tales from Deadwood could have been a best-seller. Maybe it will be, anyway. We can always hope.


Frank Denton said...

That cover is clearly a swipe from either Russell or Remington, I don't remember which. Cowboys riding up onto the boardwalk and through the swinging doors of the saloon. Must have been after a long trail drive from Texas to the railways.


Juri said...

I thought they were connected! It was a misunderstanding on my part - hence my question about cursing on Mike Jameson's blog.

Andy J said...

I can tell you exactly where that cover came from -- the portfolio of inexpensive cover art. Having several friends who are illustrators (an occupation about as extinct as the Wild West) I know only too well that publishers are no longer interested in portraying scenes from the novel onto the cover. They are pretty much only interested in acquiring a decent piece of stock art as cheaply as possible. This is becoming the case even with larger publishers. Pretty much gone are the days when an artist (today a graphic designer mostly) will actually read a book before beginning his illustration. Ah, progress ....

James Reasoner said...

Frank's right, the cover was inspired by one of Russell's paintings, but I don't recall the title of it. I've seen the Russell at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth.

One of my pseudonymous novels published earlier this year had a cover that matched a scene from the book perfectly. That's because the art was done and sent to me by the editor before the book was written, with a request that I include that scene in the book. No problem.