Clark Casey’s ‘Dawn in Damnation’ is a Weird Western worthy of Steinbeck

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“Welcome to Damnation…where every living soul is dead as a doornail. Except one.”

Clark Casey’s Dawn in Damnation is a vignette-style Weird Western that is reminiscent of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row or Tortilla Flat, except it has werewolves, a vampire, and…notorious pistolero John Wesley Hardin!

Except for one potentially game-changing irregularity, the denizens of the purgatorial afterlife “ghost town” of Damnation are dead and well on their way to Hell…maybe.

Probably.

Though sporting the gaping wounds of their violent original causes of death, these feisty room-temperature folk walk and talk, gamble incessantly, eat a lot of pork, and drink buckets of whiskey. Their dead-alive corporeal bodies can be “killed” permanently (usually in shootouts and sudden homicidal outbursts) and fed to the pigs, resulting in the aforesaid pork surplus.

Where their souls go from there is anybody’s guess, and most of these reprobates expect to burn in Hell for their deeds. But when a drowned woman arrives with an inexplicably alive-and-well baby in utero, several of the saloon rats suspect a higher and benevolent power at work and begin to wonder at the possibility of redemption.

Characters come and go, and we get to know most of them before they’re violently helped along into terminal eternity. Then there’s a core group of hangers-on whom we get to know a whole lot better. All of their stories are interesting and varied. Some of the stories are stand-alone, and others establish vibrant characters who will take supporting roles later on.

There are several ongoing character-based storylines, most of which are resolved, but no clear protagonist as in traditional westerns. It’s enough just to get to know the barflies, especially a laughing gunman, a frustrated and half-starved gentleman vampire, a boyish gambler cursed with uncanny luck at cards, and more. Each of these characters is fully realized and unique, regardless of how long they are able to dodge second death.

I get the feeling Casey could just keep writing stories in this vein (pun intended) so long as he can keep cooking up interesting characters. In fact, a sequel is planned to release in May, 2018.

The world building has potential but doesn’t feel fully thought-through. Exactly what are the “rules” of the world? No one is sure, and there are several obvious contradictions and inconsistencies. But if you like colorful characters, and don’t need a “cut and dried” plot, Dawn in Damnation is a lot of fun. I laughed out loud throughout at the wry sense of humor and surprising revelations.

The language is salty, the violence sudden and brutal, and the gore is copious.

So fry up a mess of bacon, pour yourself a shot, and dig into Dawn of Damnation. It’s a not-quite-hell of a good read.

Kindle e-book version is currently only 99 cents!

Review: ‘Mystery of the Stuntman’s Ghost,’ an action-packed 1930’s Hollywood western

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With the classic intrigue of the suspense thrillers of the 1930s and the rollicking action of the early Hollywood oaters, Darryle Purcelle’s The Hollywood Cowboy series has all the excitement and mystery of a Republic Pictures serial.

Curly Woods, intrepid Hollywood studio PR man, stumbles into conspiracies involving Fifth Column agents and hooded saboteurs, while also rubbing elbows with many luminaries from the Golden Age of Tinseltown.

Mystery of the Stuntman’s Ghost brings our hero to California’s legendary Lone Pines and Alabama Hills location, during the shooting of a Hopalong Cassidy western. It seems a mysterious phantom has been setting lethal booby traps for Curly’s stuntwoman girlfriend, and the studio fixer means to protect her…only to discover the hard way that he has now become targeted for elimination.

There’s a lot of name-dropping for fans of the era, with William (Hoppy) Boyd and George (Gabby) Hayes playing supporting roles. There’s a bar fight, a shootout, chases on horseback, a villainous conspiracy, and charming innuendo galore.

Though the short story has about as much “weird supernatural” content as an episode of Scooby Doo, it’s a wonderfully fun, pulpy mash-up of western moviemaking and pre-noir suspense thrillers. where white hats, horses, determined heroes, adoring girlfriends, four-door DeSotos, and Nazi saboteurs co-exist.

Legendary cave man abducts a girl, and three unlikely heroes come to the rescue

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The Ugliest Man in Albuquerque

When the legendary Hairy Man abducts a teenage girl from her Quinceañera, a Dominican priest, a German muleskinner, and a lovesick young tailor mount a rescue mission. Their pursuit takes the unlikely heroes into the steep and treacherous Sandia Mountains above Albuquerque.

This is a Weird Western short story from The Inquisitor series, detailing the fantastic, supernatural, and strange exploits of a brawling Irish priest sworn to defend and protect the Faith and the faithful in New Mexico, 1824-1851.

Rated PG for action, mild innuendo, and obscured nudity. Approximately 8,100 words or 42 pages.

CLICK HERE to pre-order (launches Dec. 1).

READ FREE on Kindle Unlimited.

‘Gold Faever’: Leprechaun vs. feisty nun at the Pot O’ Gold Saloon

Dandy Danny Sheehan is raking in a fortune, thanks to his Pot o’ Gold Saloon in the remote California Gold Rush town of Downieville. But when feisty Sister Bedelia steps through his batwing doors to take up a collection for an orphanage, it will take more than the Luck of the Irish to keep the wily Leprechaun from losing his greatest treasure.
This is a light-hearted Weird Western short story with a Catholic twist. Approximately 5,200 words, or 30 pages. Rated “G”.
Only 99 cents! Or, READ FREE on Kindle Unlimited.
CLICK HERE to order your copy today!

Book Review: All-Star Western Vol. 1 (graphic novel)

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Jonah Hex, DC Comics’ most popular bounty hunter is back with a vengeance in All-Star Western #1, (2011) by Justin Gray, illustrated by Jimmy Palmiotti Moritat, with additional material by Phil Winsldae and Jordi Bernet.

In a genius bit of mash-up, Hex leaves his preferred open country for the sprawling 19th century Gotham City, where he takes on a criminal conspiracy, an underground child-stealing ring, and more. Despite his monstrously disfigured face, there’s nothing supernatural about Jonah Hex. The truly “weird western” part of the story kicks in when he and temporary partner Dr. Arkham (prior to building his infamous asylum) stumble upon an underground cavern that has an ancient race of subterranean humans and a gigantic bat. Right. Jonah Hex discovered the Bat Cave and subsequently meets the wealthy Wayne family who lives in a mansion directly above.

The story is action-packed, and though Hex pretends to be cold-hearted, he’s a relentless defender and avenger on behalf of the innocent. Arkham is a bit of a weenie, which annoys the loner Hex no end and to fun dramatic effect.

The volume also includes short adventures of El Diablo (fighting zombies) and also The Barbary Ghost (taking revenge on a Chinese criminal overlord).

The stories are excellent and fast-paced, and the illustrations are outstanding. Fans of the original Jonah Hex comics will enjoy these, though the blood factor has been ramped up considerably.