cover image Blood Dance

Blood Dance

Joe R. Lansdale. Subterranean Press, $40 (175pp) ISBN 978-1-892284-66-2

Though this old-fashioned pulp western, the third volume in the Lost Lansdale series by the award-winning author of The Two-Bear Mambo, was written in the early 1980s, the vicissitudes of the publishing industry caused its publication to be delayed nearly 20 years. Successively acquired by Ace, Berkley and Silver Saddle, the book was left in limbo when all three publishers went out of business. Now in print at last, the tale begins in 1875 as Jim Melgrhue and his partner, Bob Bucklaw, ex-cowpunchers and gold miners, are forced into joining a ragtag gang of train robbers led by Major Beau Carson, a former Confederate officer who rode with the guerrilla cutthroat Quantrill. On their first major job, Melgrhue and Bucklaw see that Carson means to eliminate all the train passenger witnesses. In their attempt to prevent the slaughter, Bucklaw is killed and the badly wounded Melgrhue is left for dead. Nursed back to health by a giant mountain man, Liver-Eating Johnston--known as the legendary Crow Killer--Melgrhue is befriended by an outcast Crow warrior, Dead Thing, and sets out to find Carson and avenge his partner's murder. The trail leads to the notorious mining town of Deadwood Gulch, where Melgrhue hunts down the bad guys, one by one. After the obligatory purifying sun dance with Dead Thing, he wins another ally when he saves Wild Bill Hickok's life. The hunt for Carson finally ends at Little Bighorn, where Crazy Horse helps settle the villain's fate. Embellished with historical references and characters, this quaint shoot-'em-up is a near-perfect model of the time-honored, much-cherished Zane Grey/Louis L'Amour classic western. Illus. not seen by PW. (June)