Book Summaries

Book 1 – 2016 -ABRUPT –  A young man learns from an Army doctor that his body is betraying him and he has almost no chance at a normal life. Rejected as a possible soldier at the end of WWI, the young man chooses his own name, Mack, and leaves his harsh father much as his mother had done when her son, as an infant, contracted the illness which was a death sentence to his two older brothers. Mack has little knowledge of the world, and as he walks through the southwest, scrounging for a meal, finding work for  few years, or a few days, he experiences what has been denied him. In his late 20s, Mack has learned more than he expected, and finds both comfort and a resigned solace where he had thought anger would color his inevitable acceptance.

Review: …this short and powerful novel;  William Luckey has a gift for writing description and thought that goes right to the heart of the matter, whether it be a description of a wind-blown landscape, the thoughts of a young and frail man, or the hard truth of how we humans treat each other. The novel pulled me into this world, and I reluctantly let go with the beautiful, poignant ending. Well, done, Mr. Luckey, I can’t help but think that this was a personal reflection straight from your heart. – Cholla Woman, 2016

Book 2 – 2015 – THE VALUE OF A MULE  A fictional retelling of the Ludlow Strike and Massacre, where an unknown man and woman escaped the ugly battle between the strikers and the Colorado National Guard, which ended with the death of women and children as well as men, and the unofficial leader of the strike, Louis Tikas. Based on the history leading up to the strike, the story revolves around the short life of Cleon Eneos, and a young woman, Jane Wittman, whose father works for a mining conglomerate.

Review: There is a young man in this book (Cleon) who, from an early accident, is captive in his mind. He is accessible only through the author’s mind. It is at once heart-breaking and enlightening to glimpse an inner world of turmoil and confusion. An incredible read and a huge nod to an amazing writer who can transport you into a different and difficult time period.- Nibbana P, 2015

Book 3 –  2014 – SHOTGUN SHELLS AND A DRINK OF WATER    A government agent disappears from his bureaucratic existence, and reappears in the Texas panhandle where he buys two horses and the necessary supplies. His new name is James Straw. As he drifts into the northeastern NM grasslands, Straw reconnects with his childhood skills and finds sanctuary in an abandoned shack. Forced back into everyday life, Straw seeks out supplies in town and is immediately drawn into the lives of a local ranching family through the offer of feed for the horses and casual day labor. Tim Wofford and his wife Jeannie are expecting their second child. Tim’s use of his family’s vested water rights stands in the way of a real-estate deal worth millions.

The land lawyer for the real-estate corporation is a young woman, New Mexico-born, Daneya questions the ethics of the development as she becomes curious about James Straw. Straw, recluse and failed assassin, re-enters life to protect the Wofford family. Straw’s interactions with those around him acknowledges his inherent decency despite the violence of his past. Alone, Straw faces those who are intent on having their way, and he pays a high price.

Review: Shotgun Shells…is original, action-packed, insightful, well-crafted and entertaining. I highly recommended it. Amazon 2014

Book 4 – 2013 – BROKEN HOUSES: A young man is found on land belonging  to a part-time rancher. Charley with no last name had been part of the ranching family until a devastating truth was revealed and he chose to run. His return, lying unconscious in cactus and thin grass, reopens old wounds. Charley is a reformed drunk, slipping back after five years sober into heavy drinking. He’s made his living as a horse trainer and was in the process of delivering an expensive horse to a new home in southern New Mexico. Because the horse has been turned loose in a huge tract of land, Charley has to stay at the ranch owned by Walt and Annell Mann while he prepares to capture the escaped horse.

Cooped up with people who had denied him as a child, trying to connect with the woman he now knows is his biological mother, Charley is waylaid by a girl from his past, and struggles with accepting who he has become and what is possible.

Interwoven with Charley’s struggles is the story of an ex-rodeo bronc and a few days where survival depends on their working together, and the tale of an ex-soldier after WWI and his choice to build a fantastic house that becomes part of Charley’s future. It is a story of redemption, acceptance, love and sadness; life demanding decisions from each individual that will affect that future.

Review: ‘The pure truth in (the) characters lives are as real as  anything I’ve ever read and I love the wisdom of (the) horse skills. Again, a beautifully-told story…Amazon 2013

Book 5 – 2012 – AN OLD WOMAN’S LIES: by Belinda E. Perry (William A. Luckey is the name for Ms. Perry, who has been writing westerns since 1984) Remi McLary Vargas Sembach Gillespie raises hell in New Mexico, Colorado, and points east. Born during the double slam of the dust bowl and the depression, Remi speaks her mind to her readers even as she spins a tale of deprivation, hard work, tragedy and the inevitable time during WWII when, as a teenager, she works as a cowhand on a New Mexico ranch. Her lies and truths dig at today’s men and women even as she struggles through her life with little guidance. As an old woman, suffering from the effects of her early lack of decent food and medicine, she inevitably meets with a grown child given to his grandparents to raise in the past. The end of her lies is the beginning of her bond with her son.

Review: It is one of those books you close with sadness that it’s ended. There is a lot of depth…it almost feels like you are sitting next to Remi as she relates the story…Amazon 2012

Book 6 & 7 – 2012 -CON NORRIS/ONE LAST CHANCE: For those who have read the stories of Blue Mitchell, this single book with its two stories details both the beginning of Con Norris’ ranch, up in the Nebraska sand hills, and Blue Mitchell’s last chance at finding a home where he is wanted, and a woman who can stand up to him even as she and her father need his protection. The two men, separated by hard years of surviving the Civil War and creating a ranch based on raising good horses, and a horseman come to the end of years with working young stock, have based their lives on honesty, hard work and a love of a fast horse. Con Norris comes to the end of his life unexpectedly, and Blue Mitchell is left homeless, wandering in the rain until fortune, fate or it could be called bad luck dumps him and his horse in a muddy arroyo. His involvement with the lives of an old man and a young woman from the past can lead him to destruction or a well-earned peace.

Review: …as with all the Luckey books, do yourself a favor and dive into this wonderful world…emotionally charged book(s) with strong characters. You don’t easily forget them when you put the book(s) down.  Amazon

Book 8- 2011 – RIVER WARS: Third in the James Henry McCraw series. Patrolling the Texas/Mexican border in 1916 was the focus of the United States. Bandits charged across the Rio Grande and raised havoc in the small towns and ranches. Wounded in France before the United States entered the world war, Gideon Leander of Philadelphia is stationed in the Marfa, Texas air field, where pilots fly with the US Cavalry to chase those looting and killing along the river. First serving as a medic in the US Army, and then acting as an civilian, Gideon works with the town folk and soldiers to heal them as they battle with the enemy. His sanity in the mad world of skirmishes and ugly death is a friendship with Jim Henry McCraw, a survivor and rancher before Marfa existed, and his grand-daughter Josefina, a woman with her own standards. Taken from the two-volume history of Marfa, RIVER WARS details the chaos of the decade when horses in the military and civilian life were giving way to automobiles and airplanes

Review: enchantment.coop (Rural Electric Coop) February 2014 ‘River Wars is a strong, historical novel…A slow-cooked, savory read’

Review: Couldn’t put the book down…love drama based on history…a real pager turned with…unforgettable characters and a multi-dimensional story. Amazon 2011

Book 9 & 10 – 2011 – INDIVIDUAL, two stories; A DEBT OWED and THE SUM OF MUCH. His land and inheritance desired by a family member and a government service, his life threatened by a some-time outlaw, alone, isolated by choice, Del Winter turns on his enemies and discovers in the process of fighting back, that he has earned the loyalty of good friends and the love of a special young woman. THE SUM OF MUCH: a homely young man, barely holding on to a prejudiced existence, stands up in front of those who dislike him and his family, and forces a town to see a piece of supposedly-worthless swamp in a unique and special light.

Review: entertaining and thought-provoking…emotionally charged…with WAL’s usual strong and memorable characters. Two stories in one book are reminders of the possibilities within each individual. And again, the stories are made real by the writer’s detailed  visual setting that hold you in place. Amazon 2011

Book 11 – 2010 – SWEET GRASS; Horseman and trouble-maker, Blue Mitchell escorts a race horse to Brighton Beach race track in New York in 1900. He is to deliver the horse to August Belmont, Jr. and insure the horse’s safety. Mitchell meets Willie Simms, the first jockey to professionally in the ‘crouch’ seat, and the two men are determined to keep the horse safe from the unsavory practices of the race course until the colt proves his mettle.

Review – ‘As always, the stories about Blue Mitchell are fascinating….The author knows his Western history, horses and cowboys…it’s a must read.’ Amazon 2010

Book 12 & 13 – 2010 – ALONG CHICO CREEK/FAST HORSES; two Blue Mitchell stories in one. ALONG CHICO CREEK puts Blue in the middle of nowhere and the murder of a Southern gentleman. The Dorsey Mansion sits in the grasslands of northeast New Mexico with few neighbors. A rancher recently decamped from the shattered South is murdered and Blue finds the body. For his own survival, he sets out to find the killer. FAST HORSES; in 1891, Blue Mitchell is accused of stealing a fancy horse from an Army colonel even as he is bringing the stallion and a few wild horses in to Fort Robinson. Wounded by one of the horses, Blue is cared for by the Colonel’s wife and their son. The unthinkable happens; Blue falls in love with the wife and she returns his affection. Barely healed, Blue heads out on his own horse and a two-year-old mustang. In 1897, Blue returns to the Fort, bringing in a herd of horses for the Army from a Nebraska ranch owned by Con Norris. At the Fort, Blue is challenged to a race by the Colonel’s grown son and a bad-tempered sergeant. The terrible outcome changes Blue’s life as he learns of a past he didn’t know existed.

Review – Amazon 2010 ‘The fascinating relationships between the characters, horses, story, and landscape make these books great reading whatever your interests may be.

Review – Amazon 2010 ‘FAST HORSES is…the best published work so far by William A. Luckey…I loved the book, so will you!

Book 14 – 2009 – FIVE CENT RETURN – One man leads a rogue horse from certain death in a kill auction to the land where the horse was born. The journey is mostly on foot, spending too much time avoiding state and federal bridges, and the law along the way. Survival for Joe Evans and the reluctant and rebellious horse, Ike, is a daily matter of finding enough to eat, shelter from storms and the cold, and ways to cross too many rivers.

Review – ‘FIVE CENT RETURN follows thse journey of a man and a horse, brought together by their mutual determination to live, or die, by their own principles. Their transformation, both physical and emotional, is beautifully portrayed… Amazon 2009

Book 15 – 2008 – BURN ENGLISH: A mustanger, a mesteñero of the wide-open days is slowly strangling in the new century. Burn English has loved a woman married to his only friend for too long. He destroys his home, shoots his old stallion, long-since tamed and siring ‘English horses’, and disappears. He travels north into a narrow valley, a rough camp along the shore of a pond, and his mare’s vain attempt to escape injures her. Burn reluctantly finds himself dependent upon a child and her mother, and two wild sons, as he medicates and waits while the mare heals. Withdrawn, used to being alone, Burn is accepted by the family and involves himself in their troubles. An old man, relic of the early West, is badly injured and spends his last days in the woman’s cabin, tended and protected by Burn English.

Review:…scenes are evocative and real…can easily picture…the novel weeks after finishing it. Amazon 2008

Review:…I could put down a string of superlatives, but suffice it to say that you are a master story teller…you have a marvelous talent, your stories…find a home in my head and I look forward to reading your next one.  Richard H. 2015 

Book 16 – 2007 – THE ENGLISH HORSES: In the summer of 1889, an Englishman emigrates to southwestern New Mexico to escape his British upbringing. In the year New Mexico becomes a state, 1912, Gordon Meiklejohn writes in a diary about his first year in the territory. He describes the young woman at the hotel, Rose Victoria Blaisdel, her lover the outlaw Jack Holden, the raw mustanger Burn English, the stately woman whose father causes more trouble, Katherine Donald, and the cowhand, Davy Hildahl, who works for Meiklejohn as a reluctant enforcer. Different from each other, the five influence Meiklejohn in jarring, often brutal ways. The end of his story, written during a blizzard, is abrupt, holding some but not all the answers.

Review – Publishers Weekly…“[a]dd in loads of horse sense and the result…is a bronc- busting oater with colorful characters, vivid scenery and snappy dialogue.”

Book 17 – 2004 – NOTHIN’ MUCH: A drifter takes a job in a small town, keeping eyes on a truck-load of bulls shut in pens for the night. By the following afternoon, Dayton Sandoval has been given a job for the summer doing odd jobs for the local rancher, Chrome Kinsock. His secret is shared with a trailer child who loves horses, and Day becomes entwined with an old woman and her unwilling Eastern neighbor. Together, and separately, the women are interested in Day, who tells tall stories and long windy tales to keep the ladies from seeing more of him than a footloose wanderer.

Review: …the story is as real as it gets, strong sexual content. Amazon 2003

Book 18 – 2003 – UNKNOWN FRIEND: From her vantage point as a grandmother, Cornelia McKendrick Herrera carefully tells her granddaughter about the photograph of two men, one quite large, the other smaller, with strong features that immediately catch her grand-daughter’s fancy. “He looks almost…mean.” The child’s innocent comment brings back the years past, when Neelie herself was a child, meeting her huge cousin for the first time, learning of his friendship and protection of the ‘mean’ boy, the good-looking hell-raising child who was taunted by school children and adults, and seduced or was the seducer for lonely women. Northern McKendrick, Neelie’s beloved cousin, was the only reason the McKendrick family tolerated the fatherless boy, Key Larkin. Through high school, and then college for North, and short-time jobs for Key, the friendship stood firm, until Key was injured while working for a rancher, and recuperated in the McKendrick home. Neelie goes against all warnings and good sense and falls in love with Key. The boy tries to resist her, having made a promise to himself and to North, but Neelie is too demanding and too enticing for Key to resist. Even as their lives separate, Key attempts to live up to what is expected of him by the McKendrick family, even as he digs himself deeper into trouble. When the family comes together, united against Key as their Neelie states she will marry him, a secret is exposed that drives Key out of their lives, and forces Neelie to look into herself and begin to grow up.

Review:…It is a book to be read to the end. I was drawn to the lives of the…characters. …the author stays truthful and the characters…live out their destiny. strong sexual content  Amazon 2003

Book 19 – 1993 – TEXAS SPRINGS by Belinda Perry (William A. Luckey): Second in the James Henry McCraw series. McCraw owns a ranch in the harsh land of Presidio Texas and Leaton’s Fort. The town of Marfa is growing up and Fort Davis is Marfa’s rival for county seat. Civilization is coming to the area, and McCraw needs to claim his land. A young man, Mateo, lands a job on the McCraw ranch and stirs up trouble, especially as he enters a horse race with one of McCraw’s best. As the ranch grows, legal difficulties combine with McCraw’s interest in a widow lady; the salvation of the boy, Mateo, unfolds against the history of Marfa, Texas and the invasion of the railroad.

Review: ‘Reading only the first page change my entire view and I became a fan of yours. Your description of the environment in which your characters lived their daily lives added so much to your story. letter, NC 1994

Book 20 – 1992 – CIMARRON BLOOD – Blue Mitchell rides toward the southern Rockies, drawn by a wealthy rancher willing to pay good money to put manners on a purebred stallion. A deliberate attack by the fancy-bred horse sends Blue to a local hotel, and the stallion is shot by his furious owner. Blue Mitchell is blind, laid out in a bed in a hotel room, tended by a homely older woman who cannot help but be drawn to her helpless patient, as she knows a man who would look at her could not love her. The town of Cimarron is pulled apart by ranchers, local miners on strike; those who have land and a family against those working underground for short pay and wealthy bosses. As Blue’s health slowly returns, tension in the small town explodes; Blue’s nurse is killed by an unknown man, and the rancher’s only child, a spoiled, motherless girl, comes to the hotel to take care of the wounded horse breaker. Anger turns to murderous fury and Blue has to protect the girl against their attacker, although he cannot see the murderer.

Book 21 – 1991 – FLAGS OVER TEXAS: First in the McCraw trilogy. Jim Henry McCraw comes to the area around John Spencer’s rancho with his family, after the Mexican War. The family is slaughtered in a Indian attack, leaving only the boy, Jaime, alive. He grows up doing small chores for John Spencer while harboring a rage against anyone who is different. As a young man, Jaime, now called Jim Henry, volunteers to join a small army of Confederate soldiers under the command of H.H. Sibley, who intend to capture New Mexico and then Colorado and points west to supply the Confederate troops. Sibley’s Brigade confronts the Colorado Union troops in a narrow canyon called Glorieta, east and north of Santa Fe. There the angry young soldier learns that the battleground is ugly, death has no morals and that the kindness of a few jailed Mexico workers change Jim Henry’s attitude. He returns to the land near John Spencer’s rancho, quieted by death and softened by casual generosity.

Review: Flags…holds one’s attention with tension and anticipation, and does not…let one guess the outcome…I was struck all the way through with the richness and strength …and the manner in which the action was presented so strongly…yet with restraint.  letter, Camden, Maine 1991

Book 22 – 1991 – BAD COMPANY: Blue Mitchell travels out of Tucson to a mesa where he is to ride a rogue bronc and win a bet. He takes on the chore of guarding a rancher moving large numbers of cattle onto free range and the locals don’t approve. Blue finds a girl, with the strange name of Thomas Ann and rides with her, keeps company with her and doesn’t pay attention to those who resented Blue’s new boss and his hungry cattle, his arrogant assumption that the land was for those who took it. Blue is caught between his boss, those who claimed ownership to the land, and the girl, Miss Thomas Ann. He’s given his word and almost gives his life to settle who’s right and who’s wrong.

Book 23 – 1987 – LONG RIDE TO NOWHERE: the first Blue Mitchell story. Young, unformed yet skilled with horses, Blue is taken from a small town jail cell and hired to lead a blooded mare and her quality foal south. Hot-tempered and too innocent to understand his effect on others, Blue makes enemies on his long journey. At the end, where the mare and foal belong, Blue finds himself tangled in land disputes between Anglo and Spanish, with the hunt for Geronimo and his band the topic of worry and gossip. Blue Mitchell sets the tone of his life to come, a hero to women, suspected by men, and hell-bent on treating horses better than most people.

Review:  WWA – Author Luckey has a continuing gift for delving deep into motivations of characters…inducing us to understand…people whom we’d probably misjudge and loathe. There is a lesson about tolerance…and this briskly-paced novel is a good place to learn it. 1997

Book 24 – 1987 – THE DEATH OF JOE GILEAD: Joe Gilead returns from years in prison for manslaughter. For the drunken killing of his own brother. He rides into the once-familiar ranch and the foreman beats him to the ground, not wanting strangers to get between him and the two old people who own the ranch. Cattle thieves have been taking cattle the Gileads have branded as theirs, and the foreman is helpless to stop the theft. Joe sets himself up to become a fugitive and joins the cattle thieves, pointing them to what appears to be a short cut but is a trap, with Joe’s life as part of the set-up.

Review:  Western Writers of America – Latest in a line of Luckey characters who encourage us not to take people at face value.  … the conflicts are sharp, the details of horseman-ship and ranch life authentic enough to give the illusion of reality. 1987

Book 25 – 1986 – FIRE BASIN by William Lucky: A tired, hungry drifter rides into a town where he’s come to claim an inheritance he intends to disown. Ben Raynor’ wife and family, and his mother, were burned in a fire. Raynor alone accepts the demand from his unknown grandfather to claim the legacy of a good ranch, and an old man who regrets the departure of his only daughter more than 30 years ago. A new fire, meant to kill horses and burn down ranch buildings, keeps Ben at the home of two sisters. He watches as the town comes together, to rebuild the barn and corrals, to give the young women a second chance. When the ranch once again faces destruction, Ben finds a back trail to an explanation of the two women’s possible loss of the ranch and their attempt to make a new life.

Book 26 – 1985 – HIGH LINE RIDER: Holly Bishop fought his entire life. It began with his name, went on to his thieving father, then to why anyone would hire him when he was lamed, used up and lost. When he stumbles in to a small town in the confines of the Rocky Mountains, Holly talks his way into a job cleaning filthy stables in a livery, for two meals a day and a place to sleep. Bishop knows he is outside the life of decent folk, but he is dragged into a disagreement between a land owner and a family that breed good horses, selling them to the Army as remounts. The disagreement turns deadly, and Bishop outlines a plan, takes up borrowed weapons and vows that while his life might be at it end, the Hubbard family deserves a second chance.

Review:  Western Writers of America – Packed with solidly researched horsemanship and deep insight into a tormented personality, High Line Rider is a remarkable first novel. I hope we’ll see more from the same pen.