Posted by Rampant Coyote on February 16, 2017
If you are a fan of the history and mythology of the American West, you probably have heard of Porter Rockwell. Nicknamed “The Destroying Angel of Mormondom,” Rockwell was a deputy marshal, an enforcer, bodyguard, and gunfighter. Like other famous gunfighters of the “wild west,” an awful lot of his story is more based on legends than documentation.
David J West is a fan of the old pulp stories of Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, classic westerns, horror, and more. He has written several stories that have turned Rockwell into a pulp fiction hero. Most of these stories fall into the category of “Weird West.” My first encounter with David West’s fantastic version of Porter Rockwell was in the story “Garden of Legion” in Weird Tales of Horror, where Port must do battle against legion of evil spirits that have taken possession of tumbleweeds, forming together into a colossal, unstoppable monster.
THAT is my kind of story. A pulp fiction weird west story where Porter Rockwell is sort of Howard / Lieber-esque hero battling monsters.
Scavengers is West’s first novel-sized book chronicling his version of Porter Rockwell. As such, it’s a bit more toned down on the “Weird West” side of things, to the point where the supernatural and magic is more rumor and superstition than a plot element. If you want, you can chalk it up to coincidence and some unexplained strangeness, and read the book as a straight-up Western. It works fine, and it’s cool to have Porter deal with some more down-to-earth enemies in this story.
That said… this is a larger-than-life pulpy adventure story full of gunfights and battles, chases, daring stunts, Indiana Jones style traps around an ancient treasure, and a whole bunch of ruthless people all aiming to take possession of it. It occasionally descends into camp, but does so knowingly, as a tongue-in-cheek nod to classic western movies and novels of the past. It’s all about thrills and entertainment, and it delivers with every single chapter.
It has some problems, primarily in the editing. The problems appear in batches, as if some late rewrites were rushed through the editing process. Those problems aside, West is a talented storyteller who captures the flavor and spirit of the style of stories he seeks to emulate, keeps things moving and building until all hell breaks loose at the climax.
It’s a wild, enjoyable ride. I look forward to the next adventure!
You can check it out here:
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