In Review: WesterNoir Book Four

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The fourth book in writer Dave West and artist Gary Crutchley’s WesterNoir tales of Old West demon hunter Josiah Black is now available and seemingly turns the table on the main character as its subtitle is Josiah Black: Wanted For Murder.

The events in the previous book in which Black had to kill people that he was becoming close to are still haunting his dreams. The go-between bringing orders from his employer Mr Caligary to Black is the smartly dressed Baylocke, however Black ignores the latest letter that Baylocke brings, not even choosing to open it. Things take a turn for the worse when Mrs Greta Anderson, who hired Black at the beginning of the first book to find the man who killed her family, is shot by Baylocke when she arrives in town. Black attends to her but this brings him to the attention of the local sheriff who has a wanted poster for Black concerning the deaths in Book Three, and the penalty for murder is hanging.

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Each of the previous three books in WesterNoir have effectively been stand-alone one-off stories of demon hunting but Book Four thematically takes the characters to a new place. Dave West does not dish up new creatures as such in this book but rather it is the demons of his mind that Black has to fight as the past begins to haunt him and his work catches up with him. Indeed this is the first of the books that does require the reader to know the previous plots and, unlike the previous books, it ends on a cliff-hanger.

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Gary Crutchley’s art continues to suit the mood of the story, sometimes detailed, sometime sparse, and rather than creating a new demonic creature for this book he becomes the architect of a western town for the characters to spend the story in. His cover doesn’t just show the wanted poster for Black but also in-jokes the book’s editor Colin Mathieson and its designer Andy Bloor who continues the deliberately dog-eared look that this well presented series has.

WesterNoir is an excellent series and Book Four takes it to a place that it has not been to before setting the story on a new track that leaves both the characters needing, and the readers wanting, to know more. Roll on Book Five.

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

• The downthetubes review of WesterNoir Book One is here.

• The downthetubes review of WesterNoir Book Two is here.

• The downthetubes review of WesterNoir Book Three 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.

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