Earlier this year I wrote a lukewarm review of Peter Brandvold’s The Devil’s Winchester, an entry in a long running series about bounty hunter Lou Prophet (which you can find much more about by clicking on the Peter Brandvold tag below). I didn’t like the book so much because it lacked the fun and character development of the earlier Prophet books. Brandvold wrote back and asked me to stick around for the next one, sure to be to my liking. Heck, he even offered to eat the manuscript on youtube if I didn't like it. I pre-ordered The Devil Laughter right away, sure I’d love it.
I don’t. Brandvold is still a good writer, but the Lou Prophet that I enjoyed so much, and frankly got me into reading westerns in the first place, is pretty much gone. The books are all grimdark now, with lots of violence, and not much levity. That was the genius of the early books- tales of an emotionally scarred Civil War vet who makes a deal with the devil to accept his eventual place in Hell as long as he can party as hard as he can on Earth. All the bounty hunting stuff use to be just about funding the whiskey and whores, and those debauched and funny chapters were a blast. My favorite chapter of any Prophet book is the opening of The Devil Gets His Due, where Lou wrestles a drunken mountain man’s drunken pet bear to impress a buxom saloon girl. I still pull that chapter out from time to time for laughs. I can’t even imagine a scene like that in these books any more.
Actually I can, because I saw a couple of preview images from a dormant Lou Prophet comic book years ago. And damn, son, they were funny. Unfortunately, I can’t find them anywhere on-line any more. If anyone has them, send a link! As the Prophet books continue I really do think that they’d play better as comic books, as the characters are vividly described oddities of the west, almost like Arkham Asylum let loose in the 1880’s.
|The Lou Prophet books could use a little more of this...|
Let me make one thing clear- Brandvold is a great writer. If action packed, blood and guts books are your thing, you need look no further. They’re just not my thing, at least not all the time.