Review: You Only Hang Once, David J. West, 2022.
Things aren’t looking good for Porter Rockwell and his friend Quincy Jackson at the beginning of this novel.
The girl Emily was dragged over a cliff and into the Colorado River by Mala Cosa’s dead body at the end of Crazy Horses, and Territorial Marshal Shaw is going to use the lack of her exculpatory testimony and other evidence he’s forged, suborned, or misinterpreted to send Rockwell and Jackson to the gallows.
And Mormon leader Brigham Young, who comes off a bit prissy here, isn’t going to intervene for church protector Rockwell. The US government is still investigating the Mountain Meadow Massacre, and Young doesn’t want any impression about that the church sanctions murder. So the importuning of his daughter, aka Roxy Lejune, goes for naught.
By this time, the relationship between Roxy and Quincy has firmed up into true love for each other, and Roxy takes steps to bust Quincy out of jail, and Rockwell manages his own escape.
Hearing rumors of a new criminal gang in the area, he heads for Montezuma City, the ruins of an ancient civilization of giant white men. There he’ll meet criminal mastermind Iblis and Emily, who isn’t dead after all.
In Montezuma City, Rockwell will encounter earthquakes, the Haunter of the Abyss, and make new allies.
This one is probably my least favorite of the three Dark Trails Saga novels. Perhaps that’s because it’s the shortest, and the escape scenes didn’t interest me as much. Again, though, West provides some good characters, and it was nice to see the development of Roxy’s and Quincy’s relationship.
Additional Thoughts with Spoilers
The backstory, delivered by Iblis, of Montezuma City evidently was inspired by a bit of Mormon folklore, specifically the Gadiantons. West also says it was inspired by Robert E. Howard’s El Borak (which I’m not familiar with) and the claims by one Cyclone Covey of a “Roman Jewish colony in America”.