Way back in 2014 I interviewed a stalwart of comic and genre fiction, Keith Chapman. He was an editor and contributor to various fiction publications in London in the 1960s before moving to New Zealand and spending nearly 35 years in newspaper and magazine journalism. He returned to fiction writing in earnest in 1992, using the pen-name Chap O'Keefe, writing westerns, and also edited the Black Horse Extra online magazine. Recently he has concentrated on bringing out his quite considerable back-list in e-book format, rather than producing new fiction.
Chap O'Keefe, his wife, adult children and grandchildren live in Auckland, New Zealand. The family home was high on a North Shore hillside overlooking Hellyer's Creek and the sparkling Waitemata Harbour, but 8 years ago for medical reasons they moved to a small unit in a retirement village.
Black Horse extra online magazine appeared quarterly for six years from March 2006. It promoted the western genre and the work of authors published by the (now defunct) Robert Hale company’s Black Horse Western hardback novels. You can still read each issue of this magazine here
Keith’s writing history is covered in two lengthy blog items, featuring among other legendary characters for magazines devoted to Sexton Blake, Edgar Wallace, and Leslie Charteris’s The Saint:
Some of Keith’s re-issued westerns as e-books can be found on Amazon and other platforms:
Rebel and the Heiress
Blast to Oblivion
A Gunfight Too Many
Gunsmoke Night (his first book written as Chap O’Keefe)
This is my review of Blast to Oblivion
Inspired by Conan Doyle’s The Valley of Fear, this twenty-first Black Horse Western by Chap O’Keefe starts with a bang – a shotgun killing in Denver.
Ex Pinkerton Joshua Dillard was hired by the deceased’s sister, Flora, to investigate the murder. She suspected that her brother’s wife was concealing something – particularly as she had moved away with her male secretary Joseph Darcy to the mining town of Silverville. When Dillard arrives there, he meets up with an unusual character with the monicker of Poverty Joe, who happens to be instrumental in saving Dillard from some desperadoes. Dillard interviewed the ungrieving widow but couldn’t find any evidence to link her with her husband’s death. Besides the unwelcome attentions of the desperadoes led by Cord Skann, Dillard also has to contend with the duplicitous Marshal Broadstreet.
This is an enjoyable yarn and it’s clear that the author has written about Joshua Dillard a number of times (this is his seventh appearance, in fact); the character fits like a well-worn glove. Subtle evidence of research crops up from time to time, too. ‘An English lady traveller in the district had recorded that bad temper and profanity in the presence of women was widespread.’ I could be wrong, but this may be alluding to Fanny Trollope’s classic ‘Domestic Manners of the Americans’.
The action-packed story is laced with humour as well as gunplay. The twist at the end is neat and it’s satisfying for both the reader – and especially for Dillard – that Flora is a woman of her word.
‘Told in Pictures’ is an article written by Keith and featured in the prestigious Illustrators Quarterly (2013), lavishly illustrated with covers from Combat Picture Library, Edgar Wallace Mystery Magazine and The Sexton Blake Library, among others.