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The Shopkeeper: A Steve Dancy Tale (Steve Dancy Tales #1)

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  1,096 Ratings  ·  126 Reviews
In 1879, Steve Dancy sells his New York shop and ventures west to explore and write a journal about his adventures. Though he's not looking for trouble, Dancy's infatuation with another man's wife soon embroils him in a deadly feud with Sean Washburn, a Nevada silver baron. Infuriated by the outrages of two hired thugs, the shopkeeper kills both men in an impulsive street ...more
Hardcover, Large Print, 319 pages
Published November 1st 2009 by Center Point (first published November 21st 2007)
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Community Reviews

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Mar 30, 2017 Manray9 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: westerns
James Best's The Shopkeeper was weak historical fiction. He lacked the ear for the language of 1879, including vocabulary that was jarringly inappropriate. When his main character, Steve Dancy, described the bodyguards alongside the villain as two dreadnoughts escorting a cargo ship, Mr. Best's credibility as a historical novelist sank with all hands.
May 20, 2015 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Steve Dancy is not your usual good guy cowboy outfoxing and outgunning bad guys while getting the girl in the end. He is instead, a 30 year old ex shopkeeper from New York City looking to explore the west, still a dangerous place in 1879. Everything is going well for Steve in the silver mining town of Pickhandle Gulch until he gets bullied by two enforcers of Nevada's largest robber baron, Sean Washburn. Instead of minding his business and keeping a low profile, Steve decides on instinct, to sho ...more
Jun 12, 2010 Gloria rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Louis L'Amour has spoiled me for almost any other westerns.
When you have a man who has, literally, lived all he's writing about, it's painfully obvious when you read a story by a man who hasn't.
Sorry, Mr. Best.
Jul 26, 2016 Bagman rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I came across The Shopkeeper on Freebooksy, and read the Kindle version free. I have really been in the mood for a good western, but guess that I'll have to keep looking. Sorry Mr. Best, while the premise may be plausible for some, I found much of it a stretch and a lot of it just down right silly. A millionaire (very wealthy anyway), Shakespeare quoting, Mark Twain reading, gunsmith/high powered businessman from New York, exploring the west, seeking out adventure and wrongs to right, while coll ...more
Holly (2 Kids and Tired)
A fun western. I haven't read a lot of westerns, but this one was enjoyable. New York shopkeeper Steve Dancy sells his shop and travels west, looking for adventure. His travels take him to the silver mines of Nevada. A gentleman who prefers books and cards with friends, Steve inadvertently finds himself a gunslinger embroiled in a feud with a silver baron. Add a beautiful woman, hired killers and some early Nevada history and you have The Shopkeeper.

The story was fast paced and entertaining. The
Aug 11, 2016 Glenn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a little surprised at all of the glowing reviews for this one and would wonder if people were bribed to review it so glowingly. This book read as very amateurish to me, and all of the comparisons to Louis L'Amour are an insult to Mr. L'Amour. If Lonesome Dove is the greatest Western ever written, this is a distant last place.

I would not recommend this book to anyone.
Monica Hatfield
Aug 29, 2016 Monica Hatfield rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read

4 1/2 stars. New to this author. Nice writing and kept interest high. Looking forward to next book in series.
Thom Swennes
The town of Pickhandle Gulch, Nevada was practically a bustling metropolis in 1879. Nestled between the Silver Peak Range and the Excelsior Mountains, silver mines were springing up like weeds one the desolate landscape. Like the cattle towns lower in the valleys, Pickhandle Gulch has its share of violence, making it almost a daily fare. Thirty-one-year-old Steve Dancy has recently sold his store in New York and headed west. This high mountain settlement is just one stop on his westward trek. He ...more
Dec 31, 2015 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most western novels suffer from a formula type writing. The Shopkeeper avoids most of those cliches as the hero seeks to beat his enemies in a battle of wits, putting pressure on them using political powers, financial powers, etc. And, even so, our hero, Steve Dancy, is not above pulling out his pistol and demonstrating that despite being an Eastern dude, he knows all about weapons and how to use them. This novel is chocked full of humor, deliciously wild dialogue, clever thinking and planning, ...more
Apr 20, 2016 Dale rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story is definitely a good read for almost any fiction reader. I think the characters were interesting and the story moved along at a good pace. If you're a fan of westerns it may appeal even that much more but it isn't necessary.

Steve Dancy moves to Pickhandle Gulch from NY. You'd think things would be boring out west compared to New York, but this book proves that life can get interesting wherever you choose to hang your hat. Dancy's time in Pickhandle Gulch seems to start fairly innocuou
Jan 16, 2013 Ron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: westerns
This is an old-fashioned western in a way that goes back to the western’s roots. For the closest comparison, I’d offer Francis Lynde’s first novel, The Grafters, which was published in 1905. Both novels tell of a newcomer to the West who gets involved in a political intrigue, where influence is bought and sold, and greed rules the workings of government. . .

Read my review and an interview with the author at my blog.
Bob Ely
Jan 07, 2016 Bob Ely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book, kept the reader wanting to go on until you saw what the next thing that would happen. I did not realize when I downloaded this book, that I had read one of his others. Totally different era and I thought a good western sounded good. I was not disappointed. Living near Carson City, I was able to identify with some of the places the hero was going, although, not the main town. That always makes the book more enjoyable. The hero gets mixed up with some bad actors and how he deals with th ...more
Nov 20, 2009 Pamela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really liked this fast paced novel of Old West. Steve Dancy, the protagonist, has looks, Eastern class, and big money--perfect hero, especially since he is a great shot and a gunsmith and loves to read. Okay--it's not real literature, but it sure is entertaining with a pretty good look at the lawlessness that existed in mining towns. The characters were quite interesting. If the good guy triumphs in the end, why not?
Oct 23, 2016 Phoenikoi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it! I enjoyed the smart protagonist and his way of thinking things through before acting, and the friendships he develops with similar-minded people. It was nice reading about someone who, while he demonstrably has the capacity for deep feelings, doesn't allow them to trip him into idiotic and emotionally-charged mistakes.

I liked the plot too, how things seem to evolve and escalate in a natural fashion up to the big showdown in the end.
Jeff Benham
Jan 15, 2016 Jeff Benham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not your normal Greenhorn Goes West story. Steve Dancy might be new to the west but he brings with him special skills and savvy. Good guy needs to figure out how to defeat bad guy who is hiring his killing done. He he goes about it makes for an interesting story.
David J. Stanford
Jul 27, 2016 David J. Stanford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Western with pizzazz

I quit reading western in my teens. I have been missing something If this is typical of the genre today. This book holds your interest and keeps you guessing as what's going to happen next. No glaring typos, well written a pleasure to read.
Rohit Kilpadi
May 18, 2016 Rohit Kilpadi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Different kind of western. Very entertaining and a good read. Interesting characters.
Definitely want to read more books written by James D. Best
Dec 30, 2014 Donald rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not my usual genre however found it well written, fast moving and I would read more by this author.
Jim Shaver
Feb 11, 2016 Jim Shaver rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started this book and had my doubts. It didn't take long for me to get hooked
Jul 02, 2015 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I can't remember the last time I read a western, but this was pretty good. Gunslingers, outlaws, Pinkertons, and sassy chambermaids. Okay!
Aug 04, 2016 Kevin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western
Richard Philbrick
Jan 01, 2012 Richard Philbrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The last good western novel I read was Lonesome Dove. Westerns simply aren't the genre I generally choose, but this was a free book (for a couple of days) at Kindle so I bought it. Nice thing about picking up free Kindle books is if they don't grab you within the first chapter or two you can dump them and feel no guilt.

The Shopkeeper certainly isn't in the same class as Lonesome Dove, but it was, nevertheless, an interesting read. In 1879, Steve Dancy sells his New York shop and ventures west to
Martin Whatwouldthefoundersthink
I've read all the Louis Lamour westerns (and his other stuff too) multiple times, but really haven't read too many other westerns other than a couple by Loren Estelman.

Best's Shopkeeper is a little less genteel than Louis Lamour's normal fare - other than perhaps Sacket, where Ange gets killed by bad guys. Most of Lamour's stuff tends to be pretty tame, in that the good guy never lets anything bad happen to a damsel in distress if he can help it. Dancy makes an interesting choice which gives som
Bryan Murdock
I read a few Lois L'Amour books when I was a kid and I remember liking them, so when this western showed up on Book Bub for free I grabbed it. It was a little more gritty than I remember Lois L'Amour, rougher language from some of the characters, some darker themes. Or maybe I just didn't notice those when I was a kid?

The main character is a business man turned writer. But don't worry, he's also a quick-draw sharp shooter (how could this be a western otherwise?). The plot goes between all his bu
At first, I thought this was your typical western: outsider of moral integrity comes to small western town near Carson City and pistol duels with the corrupt thugs who run the town through fear and bribery. But there's more to it than that; bringing down the empire of corruption that includes a sheriff, mayor, banker, judge, governor candidate, and mining tycoon, whose reach extents further than our small town, means using more cunning than gunslinging (though there's some of that too, to satisf ...more
Lorin Cary
Steve Darcy has sold his shop in New York City and heads off to explore the wild west. It is 1879, three years after Custer's defeat at the Little Big Horn. Darcy ends up in Pickhandle, Nevada, a silver boom town. Two mine owners, one good, one dastardly, dominate. The bad owner's thugs confront Darcy and urge him to leave town. He seems to fold beneath their crude bullying, but when the good mine owner is about to be killed by the thugs Super Steve emerges. I somehow knew that would happen. Bes ...more
Jack Rochester
Jan 22, 2013 Jack Rochester rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read widely and deeply, but it's been a while since I read a western - the last were "Riders of the Purple Sage" by Zane Grey and "All the Pretty Horses" by Cormac McCarthy. Admittedly, McCarthy is the more intellectual and artistic, and Gray is nuts-and-bolts. James Best's "The Shopkeeper" falls between the two. I really enjoyed the work and felt Best created a believable West of 1879, although it was short on exterior description. That was more than compensated by the great characterizations ...more
Apr 29, 2012 Cat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: westerns
I don't generally read westerns, but I've picked up a couple of Best's Steve Dancy books on Amazon. Discovering an author as good as Best is one of the things I like most about having a Kindle. I don't recall ever seeing his books at a brick/mortar bookstore.

Best doesn't create an epic like Lonesome Dove. He has more in common with Zane Grey or Max Brand. His hero, Steve Dancy, is a former gun shop owner from New York City, a very wealthy man who decides to go West and journal about his experien
Oct 22, 2012 Kyle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Shopkeeper is the first in a series of Westerns featuring an interesting character named Steve Dancy. This book provides some back story to explain how he came from New York to Nevada, and sets up a confrontation between Dancy and a bad guy named Sean Washburn.

As a fan of the Western genre, I thought this story lacked grit and landscape. Sure, there were some bad guys, lots of travel back and forth between cities in Nevada, some typical Western elements of gun slingers, gun fights, whores,
This book was fun for me. The first books I remember reading were my grandpa's Louis L'Amour books, so I have a huge affection and affinity for westerns, but the genre has all but collapsed. When I started reading this I found all the familiar elements that make me love L'Amour's books, but with a greater depth of character than some of his books. I enjoyed the plot and pacing, and having grown up in New Washoe City, near Carson and Virginia City, I got a certain joy from the setting. However, t ...more
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Audiobooks: Steve Dancy Tales in Audio 1 12 Oct 11, 2015 12:34PM  
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James Best is the author of the bestselling Steve Dancy Tales: The Shopkeeper, Leadville, Murder at Thumb Butte, The Return, and Jenny's Revenge. His other novels include Tempest at Dawn and The Shut Mouth Society. Principled Action and The Digital Organization are his nonfiction books. James has ghost written three books, authored two regular magazine columns, and published numerous journal artic ...more
More about James D. Best...

Other Books in the Series

Steve Dancy Tales (4 books)
  • Leadville (Steve Dancy Tales, #2)
  • Murder at Thumb Butte
  • The Return (Steve Dancy Tales, #4)

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