Boomtown by James A. Moore
Twisted Publishing (April 2019)
354 pages; $30 hardcover; $18 paperback; $7.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia
Though I’ve heard a lot about Jim Moore’s recurring character Jonathan Crowley, I’ve never read him. Now that I have, I can add another recurring character (joining F. Paul Wilson’s Repairman Jack and Peter Laws’ Matthew Hunter) to my list of “must read characters.” Boomtown is a fast-paced, smooth-reading weird western which hits all the right notes, and now I want to find every Crowley story and read them, yesterday.
A Skinwalker has come to Carson’s Point, Colorado. An agent of chaos and death, he’s given birth to hideous “children” and sent these spawn on a twisted quest of revenge for the men who killed them and raped their women. At the same time, a band of ex-Confederate soldiers—those responsible for the killing and raping—are on a mysterious quest of their own, collecting mythical items with the promise of power and fortune should they find all they’ve been tasked with locating. Where does their quest take them? Carson’s Point, naturally.
Our story begins with a local trapper finding the frozen corpses of these ex-soldiers’ victims—a family and one additional man—just outside Carson’s Point. He brings the bodies into town, reports them to the sheriff, and leaves them with the town mortician. Soon as these bodies are left alone, however, one of the men returns to life…one Jonathan Crowley, James A. Moore’s eternal Hunter of monsters and evil things, who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when these ex-soldiers fell upon the poor Finnigan family.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s yet another supernatural agent at work, observing from afar, until it can’t help but meddle and pull strings here and there, just to see what happens. Add in a vengeful ghost who pleads with Crowley for vengeance—the dead Molly Finnigan—and flesh-eating zombies controlled by the Skinwalker, and you’ve got a delightful melee on your hands that demands to be read in one or two sittings.
In Boomtown, Moore effortlessly balances multiple plot-lines and characters, bringing the stories to resolution while giving the characters life without overwriting. Also, it was very easy to read. This, by no means, is a slight. As Nathaniel Hawthorne once said, “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” This makes Boomtown even more impressive, because a few pages in, and the words disappear, leaving nothing but the story. If you’re in the mood for a weird western, or haven’t yet encountered Jonathan Crowley, I suggest you get on this, pronto.