I first met author Greg Norgaard at Pulp Ark several years and decided to take a chance on Savage Noir: The Complete Adventures of Frank Savage, published through Pro Se Press. As the cover of the book states, the book is comprised of THREE BOLD TALES OF WESTERN NOIR!
What, as I began the reading the book several days ago, is Western Noir? Well . . . . imagine, if you will, if the Maltese Falcon occurred in the West. Literally. That may be a weak interpretation of the genre, yet that's exactly how Savage Noir felt as I read it. Yes, the stories were set during the time known as the Wild West, yet there is a gritty and dark underbelly to the stories. After reading this book, you will want a shot of whiskey, or several.
Frank Savage, retired from the US Government, is a cowboy who likes his whiskey strong and his women even stronger with a dash of hot. When confronted with those who mean to do others harm, Savage becomes a man you don't want to tangle with in a dark alley. When he fights, he usually fights until someone is dead or completely regretting their choice. Welcome to the Savage Noir, where everyone has secrets and nothing is sacred in the West.
A Savage Retribution - the first story - introduces us to Savage and the world he occupies. During a stagecoach trip, Savage must face those from his past and handle them in a way he thought buried and hidden away. However, thanks to a decision made years ago, he must now stain the earth with blood again.
A Savage Darkness leans more towards Noir than Western: Savage and his friends must track down a group of coldblooded killers to Chicago who kill for the amusement. Death becomes a close friend of Savage as he must search for not only the group of psychopaths but also their anonymous and highly dangerous leader.
An American Savage is the final story in the book - Savage must travel to England to wrap up one last "loose end" thought long gone, thanks to a fan of his who loves reading dime store novels!
Savage, clearly the good guy in this book, does have his moments of darkness, moments when he reacts with no remorse. His bloody past haunts him yet all he can do is move forward. It's all he knows. He's like a great white shark: when he's on the case, he must move or die.
In short, this book was a fantastic read, thereby giving me more reason to love Western stories beyond the movies. Norgaard's writing is harsh and brutal, leaving nothing to the imagination. The scene of Gil's thumb and a man's eye . . . wow. I read that section twice because it was just that graphic. People die in bad, bad ways in Savage's world and justice is just as brutal. Nice.
Another winner from Pro Se Press!