Skin Medicine is just one great fantastic weird western ride by horror maestro Tim Curran, and what a fun outing it is. The skill in this tale of bloody evil, living in a mining community, is the masterful weaving of both the good old wild west and the bloody gruesome imagery of the horror genre. In every western book I have ever read there is always a distinctive and strong hero, a man who, although worn down by the tough life of the lonesome cowboy, stands head and shoulders amongst his peers, and who will always do the right thing! Tyler Cabe, civil war veteran turned bounty hunter, is on the trail of a murderer known as Sin city Strangler and his journey leads him to the mining settlement of Whisper Lake…what he finds here will change his life forever and you the reader are set to be terrified beyond your wildest imagination! There is a great list of characters; Jackson Dirker, sheriff (Tyler met him during the war) Janice Dirker the sheriffs wife, Charlie Graybow, Virgil Clay and his monster brother Elijah Clay, Sir Tom Ian, English gunslinger, Carny the barman, Henry Freeman (texas ranger?) Caleb and Hiram Callister the local undertakers with some truly revolting habits! and the real villain of the story James Lee Cobb the bringer and purveyor of “skin medicine” These are some of the characters and villains that pass effortlessly through the pages of this great adventure…just look at the writing:
“Then he crossed the muddy, sucking streets and fell through the door of a tent-roofed saloon called the Oasis. Inside, the floor was covered in sawdust. There was a bar and tables with pine benches pulled up to them. A woodstove in the corner belched greasy fumes that mixed with tobacco smoke, cheap cologne, and body odor. A dozen worn, beaten-looking men slouched over beers and whiskey. A lone gambler played solitaire in the corner.”
“ The door had swung open and a tall man had stepped in. He wore a knee-length overcoat, the cuffs and collar trimmed in fur. Atop his head was a round buffalo fur cap. His face was narrow, angular, the moustache riding beneath the sharp nose trimmed immaculately. He was a handsome man and his pale blue eyes simmered with authority and bearing. There was a badge pinned to his breast. It read: SHERIFF BEAVER COUNTY UTAH.”
What I love about westerns is the spit, the sawdust, the bad manners, the total disregard for authority, the great devide between good and bad and always the simmering uneasiness that lingers…death is never far away..
”The double-doors opened and two men in gray dusters stepped in. They wore wide-brimmed hats that thrust their faces into pools of shadow. Their eyes seemed to glisten like wet copper. Everyone stopped what they were doing, watched the strangers…The strangers closed the doors. They looked on all and everyone with flat, dead eyes, hungry eyes. The eyes of wolves taking in a tasty herd of steer, wondering which one they would take down first.”……
The story rattles along at a relentless pace and ends in a spectacular gruesome gun battle…will the sheriff bring peace to this unsettled mining community and will our hero Tyler Cabe put his past demons to rest and maybe build a future for himself with the love of……..ah but you will have to read the story to find out, and I do hope you do as this must surely be one of the best examples of the weird wild west genre that has ever been printed.