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The Six-Gun Tarot    by R. S. Belcher order for
Six-Gun Tarot
by R. S. Belcher
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

If, like me, you are a fan of both classic Westerns and modern fantasy, then dive in to The Six-Gun Tarot by R. S. Belcher; you will not be able to put it down.

It opens in 1869 Nevada as young Jim Negrey struggles to survive the 40-Mile Desert. He is unwilling to sacrifice his beloved brown mustang, Promise, almost all he has left of the life he left behind. Close to death, they are rescued by Indian Mutt and Clay (a horse doctor/taxidermist), who take them to Golgotha, a town filled with shadows. Some shadows are very interested in what Jim carries, an ancient jade eye given to his father by a Chinaman - its power drew Mutt and Clay to him in the desert.

Mutt is half Indian, half coyote - he's also the deputy sheriff. His boss, Jon Highfather, is a legend who cannot die until his appointed time - he has the marks of failed hangings on his neck. Mayor Harry Pratt hides his homosexuality from his constituents and is last of a line of guardians of potent Mormon relics. Butcher Auggie recently lost his wife Gert and can't bear to lose her completely. And Maude, the wife of a banker, hides her own secret heritage as a highly trained Daughter of Lilith.

It's the banker whose weakness sets the scene for all that follows. Entrusted with the deeds of the abandoned silver mine on Argent Mountain overlooking the town, he loses them gambling. Soon, townsfolk who have been listening to a new preacher, Reverend Ambrose, start behaving strangely (even more so than usual). As this develops, the author shows readers angels arguing about the Creator's will and works - ultimately, Biqa is assigned to Earth, where Lucifer meddles.

As evil erupts from the mountain and spreads Stain through Golgotha's citizens, each of those with power fights back in his or her own fashion - and, together, they do make a difference. The Six-Gun Tarot is an engrossing tale and I hope we'll read more of 'Golgotha, mother to the lost, destination of all the hardest roads'.

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