In Review: WesterNoir Book Five

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After a gap in which publisher Accent UK gave us the short story collection spin-off Tales Of WesterNoir, WesterNoir itself returns in the more than capable hands of writer Dave “Wild, Wild” West and artist Gary “Monsewer” Crutchley (as their Wanted posters at the back of the book would name them).

Working for the previously unseen Mr Caligary via Baylocke, Caligary’s go-between, demon hunter Josiah Black was arrested in the last book and accused, correctly it has to be said, of killing the three Elides sisters who readers knew to be demonic sirens. Josiah’s fate was to hang, and that is where the last book left the story.

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Book Five, subtitled The Covenant Of Sebastian Caligary,  turns the story on its head as Aloysius Baylocke travels to nineteenth century St Louis to inform his rich employer that he has disposed of Josiah Black and employed a new gun-for-hire. Sebastian Caligary meanwhile has problems of his own as members of the Coterie of wealthy people who are financing his demon hunting are getting concerned over the length of time it is taking for him to make good on his promises. One of the Coterie, Charles St Croix, the husband of Greta Anderson whom Josiah helped in he first book and who was shot by Baylocke in the fourth book, decides to take things into his own hands, but there may be more to Caligary than first appearances suggest.

I have enjoyed WesterNoir from the beginning with writer Dave West giving readers three effectively stand-alone stories in the first three books and then taking those and combining them into a larger picture in Book Four. Here he takes readers away from the familiar setting of the small town West and instead places them in the luxury of rich St Louis with both Caligary and Baylocke taking centre stage as the background to what has been happening in the previous books begins to be revealed, at least partially.

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Artist Gary Crutchley moves easily from the lean and mean Josiah Black and backgrounds of basic frontier living in the previous books to the ‘fat cat’ Sebastian Caligary and the opulence that he has acquired for himself in this one. Surrounded by clouds of cigar smoke, Caligary retains some of his mystery until later in the book when, over two remarkably laid out pages, we realise that he doesn’t just have others do all his dirty work.

WesterNoir remains an excellent series and Book Five rewards the patience that readers of the previous four have had as the series fills in a many of its previous blanks while retaining more that enough questions to make us all want to return for more.

• There are more details of WesterNoir on the Accent UK blog.

• The downthetubes review of WesterNoir Book One is here, Book Two is here, Book Three is here, and Book Four is here.

• There are more details of Dave West’s work on his blog, Strange Times.

• There are more details of Gary Crutchley’s work on his blog, Driblin’ On.

• Accent UK will be at Thought Bubble in Leeds on the weekend of 14/15 November 2015 where they will be in the New Dock Hall at sales table number 46.

Jeremy Briggs

News, reviews, interviews and features for print and on-line: Spaceship Away (since October 2005), Bear Alley (since February 2007), downthetubes (since June 2007), and Eagle Times (since October 2008). Plus Titan’s Dan Dare and Johnny Red reprints, Ilex’s War Comics: A Graphic History and 500 Essential Graphic Novels, and Print Media’s The Iron Moon and Strip magazine.

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