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Cody’s Law Books In Order

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Publication Order of Cody's Law Books

“Cody’s Law” is a series of Western novels by Matthew S. Hart, which is the pseudonym for the combined writing team of Bill Crider and James Reasoner. The series of novels is published by Book Creations Inc (BCI), a company that made its name publishing all kinds of historical novels and westerns. “Cody’s Law” debuted in 1991 when James Reasoner wrote the first title “Gunmental Justice” after he got a 14 book writing contract from BCI. Despite signing on for 14 titles the series was cancelled after the publication of the twelfth novel “Comanche Code” that came out on 1995.

James Reasoner is an American author best known for the writing of historical fiction and western novels. He regularly collaborates with Livia Reasoner his wife and also the mystery writer who writes as Livia J. Washburn. Reasoner himself has written under various pseudonyms that include Jon Sharpe, Tabor Evans, Mike Jameson, Jim Austin, Terence Duncan, Matthew S. Hart, Justin Ladd, Hank Mictchum, and Dan Fuller Ross. Some of his novels include the likes of “Redemption”, “Wind River”, “Trailsman”, “Longarm”, “Fury”, “Tales from Deadwood”, “Patriots”, “Cody’s Law”, “Powell’s Army”, “Abilene”, “Stagecoach Station”, “Civil War Battle”, and “Wagons West”. The USA Today and New York Times bestselling author lives in Texas. Bill Crider is an American author of horror, western, mystery and children’s books whose best known works are the “Sheriff Dan Rhodes” series and the “Truman Smith” series. Before he became a bestselling author, Crider was a professor of English at the Howard Payne University, where he taught for more than a decade. In 2003, he retired to become a full-time author and published his first novel “The Coyote Connection” writing under the pseudonym Nick Carter.

The “Cody’s Law” series came into being when one of Bantam’s western editors who used to edit a series of novels about Lashtrow, a Texas Ranger character conceived by Roe Richmond thought he should revive the series. The Lashtrow novels were actually expansions and rewrites of works that Richmond had done when he worked for “Texas Rangers”, the pulp magazine that has Jim Hatfield starring as Texas Ranger. The Bantam editor approached one of BCI editors and requested that they come up with a Texas Ranger series drawing on the Lashtrow novels. The BCI editor intended to write the first novel and get Reasoner to complete the novel but he never wrote anything given that he was too busy. As such he took his outlines and pitched the entire contract to Reasoner asking him to write the novel taking into account the Lashtrow/Richmond Connection.

Reasoner was very familiar with the original Lashtrow novels having read many of the Jim Hatfield books and the Texas Rangers magazines. James kept the outlines as they were and but renamed his hero to Sam Cody in the first novel of the series “Gunmental Justice” that BCI published in 1991. He went as far back as consulting the Texas Rangers stories of Jim Hatfield, while making sure that Cody had a distinctive personality even though he is derived from the two classic characters. As such, Sam Cody of the “Cody’s Law” series is not a Jim Hatfield clone though he has the very same Western pulp hero spirit of his progenitors. By 1992, he had published six titles in the “Cody’s Law” series of novels written under the alias of Matthew S. Hart. Given how much work he was turning in for BCI the editors thought that he would burn himself out and suggested bringing in another author to lessen the burden. While he felt he could take all the work he could not object given that he was under contract to BCI. Coincidentally the editor felt that Bill Crider was the best for the job of doing first drafts of the series with Reasoner doing the outlines, editing, and polishing. As it happens, Reasoner and Crider had met several times on author forums and boards and had even become good friends. They were pleased to collaborate on the series and in 1993 published “Eagle Pass” their first collaboration that was to spawn four more titles, culminating in the twelfth of the series “Comanche Code”.

“The Prisoners”, the second novel that was written by Reasoner and Bill Crider as Matthew S. Hart, has Sam Cody having to go out in the ice storm and blizzard of the season to fetch a prisoner kept in a remote ranch in West Texas. The residents of the ranch are bizarre to say the least and Sam has a lot of trouble trying to complete his mission, given that the situation of the prisoner also complicates things. It is a novel that James Reasoner once referred to as the only western that comes with the perfect incest/cannibal/lesbian/vampire combination. While the description might be a little over the top given that none of the characters is a vampire, the novel itself, particularly the characters in the house provide an excellent if weird narrative. Nonetheless, the novel is great traditional Western with the shooting and riding, a villainous outlaw, and a stalwart hero who will do anything to complete his mission.

In “Comanche Cody”, Sam is a Texas Ranger that is set apart for his boldness and bravery. He sports a pair of silver spurs and the badge of the Texas Rangers proudly upholding the proud tradition of doing right and ensuring the bad elements get justice for their actions. It is men like him that made the Rangers a legend on everyone’s lips, and Texas a land known for adherence to the law. But now the Governor requests Sam to take two prisoners to Florida where they are to serve their sentences in a federal prison. He cannot refuse the assignment but knows this is going to be one tough assignment, with enemies such as the Twisted Hawk and Red Moon Comanche gangs ready to kill to take back their people. Moreover, the Army that will be providing escort on the trip is not happy that the governor asked for the help of the Texas Rangers. Following along is a beautiful do-gooder who dreams of setting the prisoner free, and an irritating New York reporter looking for a story. Throw in an ambush from a gang of robbers and the trip becomes one hell of a ride.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Cody’s Law

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