Dead in the West - Joe R. Lansdale
I'd almost caught up on verdicts. Then I went and read three books in as many days.
After reading something that had as much impact as City of Saints & Madmen, any book that follows has its work cut out for it. So, I deliberately chose something that wasn't trying to be genius (not that I wanted a repeat of The Phantom Menace experience) and this one had 'pulp' written all over it. As well as 'zombie western'. Really, I couldn't go wrong.
It always takes me a couple of pages to adjust my gears for a book that is shooting for pulp. The initial metaphors and similies make my inner editor cringe, until said inner editor realises that they're totaly deliberate and unshamefully so, and shuts up. Didn't take long to do that, in this case, as I spent a while staring at the cover.
Big bosomed young lady clings screaming to big muscled hero who is fending hordes of zombies off with a shotgun. (Although he's not actually using the shotgun the traditional way, he's swinging it around like a club, which I can't imagine is nearly as effective.) Brilliant!
The small town of Mud Creek is cursed, oh woe, and they asked for that curse, what they did to the medicine man and his woman. And only one man can save the town! Reverend Jebediah Mercer! Who's currently having a severe crisis of faith! And drinks! And kills! And oooooooooh! His troubled soul! God has sent him to this forsaken town to test him, in several different ways if his reaction to Abby, the Doctor's daughter is anything to go by.
I had a lot of fun with this book. Lansdale is consistent with his pulp and cheesy, and mixes it in with horror quite well. Zombies don't frighten me. It's hard to work up fear about some that shambles, that even I can easily out run. But damn, these ones grossed me out. Bits hanging out, bits of goop and ick everywhere. Ick. Ick ick ick.
The end did surprise me, because I'd forgotten exactly how zombie stories worked. It's okay, I remember now.
Verdict: Much fun, although not for everyone. I know I have a very high tolerance for cheese (I enjoyed Van Helsing after all), and this is cheese very well done.