Black Jack Derringer
Skullvines Press; 2009, $16.95
At the bar in the misnamed New Hope bounty hunter “Wild” Alice West notices the albino card player, Mr. Treen no last name and believes he is her dream ticket. Wild Alice thinks he can be her front as women are not allowed to do man’s work in Skillet. She also knows that Mr. Treen no last name will be the wealthiest dead man in town tonight as winning at cards without a gun is perilous.
However, she reconsiders her first musings and decides the muto-man is actually a derringer man. So when he proves her right by pointing his gun at the groin of someone accusing him of cheating, she is elated. He is perfect for her. She tries to hire him, but he tells her she is the perfect bounty hunter without need of a pig of a partner. Two misfits team up trying to earn a living by bringing in bounty.
The first Ace Of Spades novella is a superb western fantasy in which Karen Koehler quickly establishes her world and key players in a fast-paced, but very short tale. Wild Alice and Mr. Treen is a wonderful pairing as each has secrets and issues. Support players like those at the bar and muto man Goliath enhance the landscape and the lead couple. Fans will enjoy this superb quick read and look forward to the second ace, but first must decide whether the 102 page post-apocalyptic thriller is worth the cost.