HOT LEAD, COLD HEART
His Honor Newland Pontiff III, late of Exeter Territorial Prison, now presides over a vast tract of land with the ambitious town of Cayuse Falls at its center‚ town he’s confident he can transform into the ‘Washington of the West,’ given enough time. But a demon from his past haunts the horizon, and time is running short. Mason the Mankiller, vigilante hero to the downtrodden, has come out of retirement to settle one last score‚ the only one that ever mattered‚ with a man who long ago forgot he’d wronged the famous ‘killer of killers’. A tonic peddler, vengeful sisters, and a reluctant lawman all dog Mason’s trail. But he vows that nothing will stop him from seeing this last mission through to its end‚ an end he knows he won’t survive.
FA Thorpe/Ulverscroft edition, November, 2009, softcover
Robert Hale Ltd. edition, October, 2008, hardcover
“The third Mayo western I’ve read and up to the usual standard of good writing with disparate characters meeting up and their lives entwining. The mystery that is Mason is explained in the denouement. Very satisfying read, with humour, action, violence, suspense and compassion.”— Nik Morton
“Matthew P. Mayo has a keen eye for the absurd. His Westerns are steeped in authenticity and boiled in action, but it is Mayo’s skewed vision of the world that lingers long after the final page. He shows us the mythic West with the sharp, clear eye of a realist looking through rippled glass. Mayo is the author of the novels WINTERS’ WAR, WRONG TOWN, and HOT LEAD, COLD HEART, and the editor of WHERE LEGENDS RIDE: NEW TALES OF THE OLD WEST. At his finest, Mayo captures the surreal and very human quality of everyday life in the 19th century west. His protagonists meet whatever comes their way with nonchalance; they struggle in a world of misperceptions and uncertain realities, come what may. Time and again they must sort out the mythic from the mundane, the weak from the strong, the bizarre from the necessary. Yet, even deep within the most tangled cases of mistaken identity and the darkest of back alley nights, Mayo is always in control of his craft.
In HOT LEAD, COLD HEART, the protagonist Mason, a grizzled gunman who kills only those who deserve it, rides slowly through the woods to take care of one last problem before hanging up his gun. The problem? He must settle a score with a porcine megalomaniac whose sweaty grip on the town Cayuse Falls is slipping quickly away. On the way, Mason meets a big-hearted Irish drummer with logorrhea, a pair of mismatched sisters on a rampage, and a donkey and mule team that always shows up at just the right time. But the most compelling character is Rip, the town Marshall, who is caught between a manipulative benefactor and an ambitious wife. The overall effect of Hot Lead, Cold Heart is as much Louis L’Amour’s HONDO as it is Barry Hannah’s NEVER DIE or Percival Everett’s GOD’S COUNTRY.
Mayo writes evocative prose, gritty characters, and action-packed scenes. Themes, as he has mentioned in interviews, “of self-reliance, overcoming adversity, [and] the satisfaction felt when a tough job is well in hand” run smoothly beneath the characters and the action. If you enjoy authors like Jack London, Mickey Spillane, Jim Thompson, Loren D. Estleman, Robert J. Randisi, James Reasoner, Larry D. Sweazy, Peter Brandvold, and Johnny D. Boggs, then you will find a kindred spirit in Matthew P. Mayo–a kindred spirit who is nonetheless very much an original voice in the landscape of Western literature.”— Jeremy L.C. Jones