Several reviews of weird westerns from David J. West are coming up.
Given their stats, my weird western reviews are about as useful as a lame mule dying of thirst in the desert. They don’t look capable of carrying their weight much longer. I’m tempted to put a bullet through their head. We’ll see if water shows up.
Review: Six-Gun Serenade, David J. West, 2017.
This is a teaser anthology with just two stories and an excerpt from a West novel which I’ll be covering in the future.
In “Six-Gun Serenade” it’s 1868 in the border of the Wyoming and Utah Territories, and chemistry teacher Amsa Davison finds himself playing host to some unsavory men in his house.
Led by Caleb Landforth, an Omar Khayyám spouting man who claims to also be a spiritualist, they are on the trail of treasure: a lost Spanish gold mine abandoned when the native slave labor rebelled and killed the Spanish there. They are confident they’ll find the mine but need Davison to assay any gold taken.
Meeting the rest of Landforth’s crew, Davison finds there even worst bad men when they expect apart from the cook and a couple of others. Then there’s Warner, a long-haired gunfighter with the steel blue eyes of a natural killer. It doesn’t take long, of course, for it to be revealed that Warner is none other than Porter Rockwell, a favorite character of West’s for his weird westerns.
And there is a bit of weirdness here since Landforth really does have psychic powers which lead him to the mine. But it’s also no surprise that Landforth has decided that he won’t need Davison for long.
It’s a engaging story that doesn’t hang around long enough to wear out it’s welcome, but I can’t say it’s particularly memorable.
“The Money Light” was supposed to be included in West’s collection of linked stories, Whispers Out of the Dust, but ended up not being included for length reasons.
It’s a pleasant enough ghost story full of what I call faux Western dialogue – laconic and humorous, but I doubt people in the real American West talked that way.
Things start out with protagonist Saul Reynolds killing, in a card game, the Ferguson brothers who accuse him of cheating. (Spooner, Reynold’s friend, was the one actually cheating.) Given their reputation, the town is certainly not sorry to see the Fergusons dead, and Reynolds goes with the Ferguson bodies to their mother’s house.
He finds her dead and sees a strange light. He reports this to the Sheriff, and he, Spooner, the Sheriff, and the town’s mortician go to the Ferguson place the next day. Contrary to Reynolds’ claim of seeing Mother Ferguson dead in her bed from natural causes, she’s full of bullet holes which match Reynolds’ pistols.
So, it’s off to jail for Reynolds. But he doesn’t stay there . . .
Like most of the work in Whispers Out of the Dust, it’s engaging enough not to annoy while reading it, but it isn’t going to stick in your brain.