About Gunslingers: A Story of the Old West

Gunslingers: A Story of the Old West is John Layne’s inaugural novel set in the Old West packed with family drama, action, and adventure. In this, Book One of the Luxton Danner Series, author John Layne tells the story of Joel Thornton and his daughter Elizabeth, as they seek frontier justice with legendary U.S. Deputy Marshall, Ben Chance.


Joel Thornton is a retired U.S. Deputy Marshal now living a quiet rancher’s life. Days after welcoming his daughter Elizabeth home, a fugitive seeking revenge attacks his ranch. Badly wounded trying to protect his home and save his daughter, Thornton sends his daughter on a dangerous mission to find help from the only man he trusts to save his beloved family and ranch.


Fans of Western Fiction novels are in for a treat with Layne’s crisp, strong prose and cinematic style.

Book 1 in the Series. A Luxton Danner Novel

"I wanted Gunslingers to be a throwback to the Dime Novel era that was popular from the Civil War through about 1900. It's a traditional, straightforward western, with heroes and villains the reader will care about." - John Layne


Midwest Book Review

Synopsis: Joel Thornton is a retired US deputy marshal now living a quiet rancher's life outside the Texas town named in his honor. Days after welcoming his daughter, Elizabeth, home after seven years back east in Philadelphia, an old fugitive attacks the Tilted T Ranch seeking revenge and Thornton's cattle. Wounded in the ensuing gunfight, Thornton calls upon his daughter to find his old partner, former US Deputy Marshal Ben Chance, informing her, "Chance will know what to do."

The young woman's journey leads her on an adventure that exposes her to the dangers of the Old West, including an Indian attack on her stagecoach, where a mysterious gunslinger emerges from the hills and saves the coach. Enchanted by Elizabeth and her quest, the gunslinger joins her in the search for her father's former partner, who unbeknownst to them has been wounded in a gunfight, having been saved by a young brash gunslinger on a secret mission of his own.

Together, the two young gunslingers join the aged former Marshal Chance in the hunt for the outlaws who shot Elizabeth's father and stole his herd.

Critique: A classic western novel by an author with a full mastery of the genre, John Layne's deftly crafted novel, "Gunslingers: A Story of the Old West" is an inherently compelling read from beginning to end. While unreservedly recommended for community library Western Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated western fans that "Gunslingers: A Story of the Old West" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Readers' Favorite

Reviewed By Christian Sia

Gunslingers: A Story of the Old West by John Layne presents one of the goriest battles in what has come to be known as No Man's Land. The simple version of the plot is something like this: Joel Thornton is a retired US deputy marshal who lives on a ranch and in a town that is named after him. When his daughter, Elizabeth, returns home after being away for seven years, a fugitive attacks the ranch, hurting Thornton badly and robbing him of his cattle. He sends Elizabeth to find his old friend, former US Deputy Marshal Ben Chance. Thus begins an adventure that will involve romance and a battle for revenge that is legendary.

There is music in the prose, the language brimming with rich imagery, and sounds, sights, and feelings that inundate the reader's senses. A great story isn't just about the characters in it or what happens to these characters, but also about how it is told, and this author does it like no other. I was pulled in from the start by the power of the prose. Gunslingers: A Story of the Old West is set in a land that knows no laws, where the strong survive; the wild, wild west of the gunslingers. The story has so many surprises like when Elizabeth's stagecoach is attacked and she gains an ally in the process. John Layne writes beautifully and captivates the hearts of readers through crisp and strong prose. The novel is action-packed, fast-paced, and skillfully balanced, with characters that are well developed and humor that makes it irresistible.

Readers' Favorite

Reviewed By Romuald Dzemo

Gunslingers: A Story of the Old West by John Layne has everything readers look for in a western. Retired US Deputy Marshal Joel Thornton is living quietly in his ranch and in a town that bears his name when a fugitive attacks and hurts him out revenge and desire to have his cattle. He asks his daughter, Elizabeth, who has just arrived after a long period of absence, to go find his old buddy Ben Chance, another US Deputy Marshal. Elizabeth’s adventure is fraught with danger, including an attack on her stagecoach, and a shadowy gunslinger who saves her and becomes part of her journey to find Marshall Chance. Will Marshall Chance and other gunslingers locate the rascal who shot Elizabeth’s father and exact revenge? The novel features a dramatic gun battle that captures the free and dangerous spirit of the Old West.

John Layne knows how to tell a story and the reader is left in no doubt that the author understands the geography in which the story takes place, and knows his way around guns. I felt as though I was taking part in the gun battles described in this novel. The story explores strong themes of family, adventure, love, and friendship. The story is rich in imagery and the easy-to-understand, highly descriptive prose sets the story apart and makes it a page-turner. Gunslingers: A Story of the Old West is filled with action and is fast-paced. It is cinematic and readers will easily imagine the scenes and characters as they turn the pages. This is one of the best books I have read about the Old West, with characters that are memorable and action that is nonstop.

Readers' Favorite

Reviewed By K.C. Finn

Gunslingers: A Story of the Old West is a work of western-style fiction with plenty of action and intrigue, and was penned by author John Layne. Written as a clean read for all types of audience, this multi-genre tale set in the old west contains plenty of family drama and romance, as well as the action and adventure one would expect from the genre. The focus is on Joel Thornton and his daughter Elizabeth, who experience an attack from an old fugitive on their ranch in Texas. Elizabeth heeds the call to find her father’s former partner, US Deputy Marshal Ben Chance, but this leads her to a mysterious gunslinger and here the story really heats up.

Author John Layne has both a great sense of what makes a classic nostalgic western, and what makes great reading in a modern-day adventure novel. What results is a really well-rounded tale with multiple plotlines at play, emotional drama arcs but also mysteries and missing persons, old grudges and new dangers. The writing style is atmospheric yet concise, getting us to the action fast when called for but still painting those historic scenes we know from cinema and television. The dialogue is also a triumph, harkening back to the old ways of speech but not so much that readers can’t engage with and understand the characters and their well-formed personal storylines. Overall, Gunslingers: A Story of the Old West delivers everything it promises and more. A highly recommended read for western fans and newbies alike.

Recent Amazon Reviews

"Gunslingers: A Story of the Old West draws the reader in to a gripping tale of the west from the very start. An entertaining tale chock full of mysterious Gunslingers, adventures and revenge with romance and humor laced throughout the pages. Whether you are a fan of westerns or not, this book is impossible to put down. The last page will leave you craving more." - Rachel 

"If you like Westerns, you will love this one. Excellent story-telling." - Donagan

"An outstanding western! If you enjoy western novels, this is a must for your collection. The writing is wonderful and places the reader in the moment. This a great book in the tradition of western novels but with the twists and turns of a modern detective thriller. Can't wait for the next one!" - Mike

"A Page-Turning Western! I will preface this review by saying that I am not an avid reader nor a regular reviewer; and when I do read, the western genre is certainly not my go-to choice. I read this book on a recommendation from a friend and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The book is very well-written, engaging and had short chapters that regularly had me staying up late at night for “just one more chapter”. The characters are well- developed, and the writing creates a feeling of familiarity with them. There are some great gunfights, of course, but the story goes beyond that into relationships, history and the intertwined lives of the people involved. I would definitely read more books by this author." - M. Robertson

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