The woman with the dead eyes
Whenever I pick up something that has western in it’s title, review or description I’m hit with a ton of expectations. Mostly it is to do with the characters, the protagonist, the antagonist and everyone else that makes up and carries the plot and book 1 of WesterNoir doesn’t disappoint in the form of Josiah Black. Who immediately fits the other expectation, someone who is remorseful and possibly seeking redemption, when through his own narrative introduces a quick profile of himself and the stories told about him by others. In his own right he has already made you wonder about his origins and history within the first two pages, a story I hope gets its own book about how became this revered man who, “shot the wings off a hornet that bothered” him. He is then already a person of folklore who has already done things and we meet him slap bang in the middle of this “new beginning”.
This beginning is depicted through black and white art, I’m no expert on illustration in comic books or otherwise so my point of view is one of looking at the story and seeing if the art fits with it and compliments it. I think it does this and very well, for a western I think you need something that is quite “scratchy” and sets the story in a specific time, and the black and white art does just that plus it gives it that extra bit of grit alongside Black’s own demeanour.
What we learn quickly through Black’s interactions is that he doesn’t seem to be able to say “no” to a woman or to a plea for help, especially around cold killings that seem to have links to his own past. He is also as we quickly find out very handy with a gun but because of his quickness to accept the pleas of a woman, he doesn’t always see what is right in front of his face. A thought that is duplicated throughout this first book, things aren’t always what they seem.
What comes of this is a nice twist and revelation for Josiah as well as a new piece of kit to help him see things for what they are. It is when he is given this bit of kit that the front cover becomes part of the story and that little thought of “ah, that makes sense now” comes flooding in.
So on the hunt for a killer Josiah takes the job given to him by Mrs Anderson, which in turn gets him a job he wasn’t expecting that will continue in books 2, 3 and beyond. A job that thrusts the western and supernatural genres together as a fruitful relationship and by the end of this book you will want to know what Josiah is doing in Louisiana and book 2.
You will want to know because book 1 is a very good read, it takes you through the story at a nice pace, introduces us to Josiah a man who grows on you as you get more and more snippets about him. A man who you think “yeah this guy is going to be kick-ass” and I want to stick with him. Mainly because, and I think this is what AccentUK do really well, he is human, no superpowers just a skill with a gun that he uses with great effect.
At the end of the book is a nice flashback to Jim Wilson, a character who I haven’t mentioned yet because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. What I will say though is now we’ve had one flashback I hope we get more as a way of delving further into things that were happening before we met Josiah Black.