Oakley Hall Books In Order

Legends West Books In Order

  1. Warlock (1958)
  2. The Bad Lands (1978)
  3. Apaches (1986)

Ambrose Bierce Books In Order

  1. Ambrose Bierce and the Queen of Spades (1998)
  2. Ambrose Bierce and the Death of Kings (2001)
  3. Ambrose Bierce and the One-Eyed Jacks (2003)
  4. Ambrose Bierce and the Trey of Pearls (2004)
  5. Ambrose Bierce and the Ace of Shoots (2005)


  1. So Many Doors (1950)
  2. Corpus of Joe Bailey (1953)
  3. Mardios Beach (1955)
  4. The Pleasure Garden (1966)
  5. The Downhill Racers (1968)
  6. The Adelita (1975)
  7. Lullaby (1982)
  8. The Children of the Sun (1983)
  9. The Coming of the Kid (1985)
  10. Separations (1997)
  11. Love and War in California (2007)


  1. The Western: Four Classic Novels of the 1940s & 50s (2020)

Non fiction

  1. The Art and Craft of Novel Writing (1995)
  2. How Fiction Works (2001)

Legends West Book Covers

Ambrose Bierce Book Covers

Novels Book Covers

Omnibus Book Covers

Non fiction Book Covers

Oakley Hall Books Overview


Oakley Hall’s legendary Warlock revisits and reworks the traditional conventions of the Western to present a raw, funny, hypnotic, ultimately devastating picture of American unreality. First published in the 1950s, at the height of the McCarthy era, Warlock is not only one of the most original and entertaining of modern American novels but a lasting contribution to American fiction.’Tombstone, Arizona, during the 1880’s is, in ways, our national Camelot: a never never land where American virtues are embodied in the Earps, and the opposite evils in the Clanton gang; where the confrontation at the OK Corral takes on some of the dry purity of the Arthurian joust. Oakley Hall, in his very fine novel Warlock has restored to the myth of Tombstone its full, mortal, blooded humanity. Wyatt Earp is transmogrified into a gunfighter named Blaisdell who…
is summoned to the embattled town of Warlock by a committee of nervous citizens expressly to be a hero, but finds that he cannot, at last, live up to his image; that there is a flaw not only in him, but also, we feel, in the entire set of assumptions that have allowed the image to exist…
. Before the agonized epic of Warlock is over with the rebellion of the proto Wobblies working in the mines, the struggling for political control of the area, the gunfighting, mob violence, the personal crises of those in power the collective awareness that is Warlock must face its own inescapable Horror: that what is called society, with its law and order, is as frail, as precarious, as flesh and can be snuffed out and assimilated back into the desert as easily as a corpse can. It is the deep sensitivity to abysses that makes Warlock one of our best American novels. For we are a nation that can, many of us, toss with all aplomb our candy wrapper into the Grand Canyon itself, snap a color shot and drive away; and we need voices like Oakley Hall’s to remind us how far that piece of paper, still fluttering brightly behind us, has to fall.’ Thomas Pynchon

Ambrose Bierce and the Queen of Spades

The Morton Street Slasher has been leaving the corpses of his victims around San Francisco’s Union Square. On the women’s naked bodies are spade playing cards. The city’s infamous newspaperman, Ambrose Bierce, blames the rash of murders on his old enemy, the Southern Pacific Railroad. A naive reporter at Bierce’s Hornet pursues the case, uncovering conspiracy at every turn. In a fast paced novel that is a combination of murder mystery, historical fiction, and quirky biography, Oakley Hall draws the reader into 1880s San Francisco and the changing world that was California in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Local and state politics, the exploitation of the Chinese, the power of the mining and railroad barons, and San Francisco’s colorful history provide a backdrop for this irresistible thriller. The novel’s chapters are introduced by appropriate excerpts from Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary and narrated by the young reporter Tom Redmond. Redmond is interested in the murders because of his attraction to a woman threatened by the Slasher, and Bierce encourages him because of his personal vendetta against the Big Four of the Railroad. Bierce’s misogyny is an influence as well, which Hall uses to advantage in portraying the enigmatic journalist. Hall knows his territory and his characters well. The sights and smells of late nineteenth century California are cleverly evoked, and the story’s key players are refreshingly authentic. Bierce brandishes his famed cynicism with all the aplomb of the sharp eyed, sharp witted newspaperman he was. Cameo appearances by such California worthies as Ina Coolbrith and Joaquin Miller add to the novel’s historical richness. Intelligent, gripping, and often quite funny, Ambrose Bierce and the Queen of Spades will satisfy any reader who craves adventure, mystery, romance, and fine writing.

Ambrose Bierce and the Death of Kings

In this compulsively readable mystery, the hero is the historical figure Ambrose Bierce, William Randolph Hearst’s star reporter and San Francisco’s most celebrated writer at the turn of the twentieth century. Bierce is asked to investigate the disappearance of a Hawaiian princess attached to the entourage of King Kalakaua, who is slowly dying in the Palace Hotel’s Royal Suite. As Bierce and his prot&eacuteg&eacute, Tom Redmond, search for the missing princess, San Francisco plays host to a throng of Hawaiian royal courtiers and counselors embroiled in a swirl of political intrigue surrounding the successor to the throne. Intelligent, gripping, and often very funny, this wonderfully tangled tale of murder and mystery is sure to satisfy. ‘Oakley Hall has one of the finest prose styles around: tough, agile, but tinged with a sepia hint of gentlemanly elegance. It’s a tool perfectly suited to bringing to life the San Francisco of the 1890s, at once gilded and rough hewn, brawling and refined.’ Michael Chabon, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

Ambrose Bierce and the One-Eyed Jacks

Ambrose G. ‘Almighty God’ Bierce, San Francisco’s legendary newspaperman and sometime sleuth, is hardly surprised to be consulted by William Randolph Hearst when the latter’s mistress finds herself photographically compromised. But in the rough 1890s Bay Area streets, Hearst’s isn’t the only case on the boil. Bierce and his sidekick Tom Redmond follow a trail of murder that leads from a sinister British yachtsman to a photographer of female flesh, via the beauty queen of the Portuguese Pentecostal festival; white slavers; a slave ship and the Chinese girls who have been imported on it; tong hit men; Dionysian revels; and a shocking photography ring. Bierce’s unraveling of it all sheds a blinding light on parental guilt and fin de si cle morality. The third in Hall’s Ambrose Bierce series, this is a must have for fans of Caleb Carr’s The Alienist, E. L. Doctorow’s The Waterworks, and all historical adventures.

Ambrose Bierce and the Trey of Pearls

When three pretty young suffragists known as the Trey of Pearls come to San Francisco, the city’s brawling and unrefined men whip themselves into a lather of desire and defiance. But the murder of Reverend Divine, the famous advocate of spiritualism, temperance, and the female vote, sets Ambrose Bierce and Tom Redmond on the trail to uncover a darker side to the girls composure and comeliness free love, a jeweled harem, and a web of San Francisco s most powerful men desperately trying to cover their pasts. As the two sleuths begin to glimpse the truth, the body count builds and tensions both political and social erupt into a standoff among suffragists, hard drinking diehards, and, lurking in the shadows, the elusive murderer.

Ambrose Bierce and the Ace of Shoots

From Thomas Pynchon to Richard Ford, Amy Tan to Diane Johnson, the list of devotees of the Ambrose Bierce mystery series continues to grow as the larger than life hero tracks down California’s most malevolent criminal minds. In this rough and tumble romp through gritty Old San Francisco, Ambrose Bierce and his faithful associate Tom Redmond are on the trail of a celebrity sniper. Amid seduction, revenge, wing shots, ambuscades, knife throwers, free love colonies, a friendly opium parlor, and a letter from Queen Victoria, Ambrose Bierce and Tom Redmond must turn up the true killer.

The Downhill Racers

The ski world glory seekers, bums, and bunnies the hangers on and the has beens the rich patrons and the fading patronesses who move with the snow, trying to make it any way they can.


Separations, a novel by writer Oakley Hall about a 19th century rafting expedition on the wild and beautiful Colorado River to the Grand Canyon, is filled with adventure, intrigue, and human drama.

Hall belongs to a special breed of writers who invoke the Western to convey cosmic themes. In Separations, the themes resonate with our contemporary culture: divisions between environmental exploiters and conservationists, between religious groups, between men and women.

A master of the genre called ‘cowboy existentialism,’ Hall is the creator of books that became the films Warlock and Downhill Racer.

Both history and entertainment, Separations is a thrilling read.

Love and War in California

The Sweeping Novel of a Twentieth Century California Life Love and War in California tells the story, through the eyes of Payton Daltrey, of the last sixty years of an evolving America. The award winning author Oakley Hall begins his newest work in 1940s San Diego, where his endearing, wide eyed narrator must define his identity in terms of self, family, and World War II. As his classmates disappear into the war one by one, he becomes obsessed with abuses of power and embroiled with the charming, dangerous Errol Flynn; with the Red Baiting of the American Legion; with the House Un American Activities Committee; and with the Japanese interment at Manzanar. Nevertheless, Payton, too, must go to the war, where he is a part of the invasion of Europe and that proving of the American soldier: the Battle of the Bulge. After war’s end and time in New York, he returns to California as a writer and a seeker, whose old, long lost love rises from the ashes to show him who he really is. Hall has been called a ‘master craftsman’ Amy Tan with ‘one of the finest prose styles around’ Michael Chabon, and he has received the PEN Center USA West Award of Honor and the P&W Writers for Writers Award. Coming on the heels of Hall’s San Francisco Chronicle bestseller a reissue of his classic Western, Warlock, Love and War in California is more than a novel about a young boy who grows old. It’s about how the passions of youth become the verities of age, and how we evolve as a nation, a country, and a people during times that are all at once turbulent, dangerous, and stirring.

The Art and Craft of Novel Writing

Oakley Hall cites the works and methods of great novelists to show readers what works in the novel and why. This book features advice on taking a novel through each of its stages, guiding writers through the process of writing a novel.

How Fiction Works

In How Fiction Works, Oakley Hall expands upon and broadens the instruction that made The Art and Craft of Novel Writing so successful. This new book covers all forms and lengths of fiction, probes deeper into every topic, offers new examples and includes exercises and the end of every chapter. He explains the basic and finer points of the fiction writing process from word choice and imagery to authority and viewpoint. The book is divided into three sections, beginning with ‘The Basics.’ In this section, Hall explores the micro elements of storytelling, such as details, word choice, images, symbol and metaphor. He then moves on! to ‘The Elements,’ which covers the primary elements of fiction: point of view, characterization and plot. Citing numerous examples from classic and contemporary work, he shows readers how these elements function separately and in concert. Finally, the focus shifts to the specific types of fiction short shorts, short stories, novellas, and novels also known as ‘The Forms.’ Each form presents a unique challenge to the writer, and Hall explains how to meet those challenges. Beginning, as well as more advanced writers, will find much to like about this book.

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