cover image Black Hat Jack

Black Hat Jack

Joe R. Lansdale. Subterranean (, $25 (128p) ISBN 978-1-59606-677-9

Based on a true story, this novella-length Western from Lansdale (The Thicket) offers a potent concoction of witty repartee and a rousing battle. Black Hat Jack and Nat, who goes by Deadwood Dick, make an unlikely pair. Although the former is white and the latter black, the difference in their skin color matters little to them as they ride into Adobe Walls, Tex., after discovering a man killed by Comanche Indians. Soon violence breaks out as the Indians attack the town. While their ammunition may run low, Nat's keen wit stays fully loaded throughout the skirmish. In fact, Nat's acerbic narration proves more diverting than his fighting prowess, as he remains more of an observer than a participant through much of the fight. Lansdale's classic Old West tale hits all the requisite plot points with the exuberance of a cowboy who has an overeager trigger finger, though it skimps on the necessary dose of buddy cowboy mischief that would make readers care more for the amusing duo. (Sept.)