Outlaws and Worse, Jonathan Eaton’s followup to A Good Man for an Outlaw, is everything we hope for in a sequel and much more. While continuing the story of Deputy Hayes, the pharmacist Fowler, and the outlaw Mathew Mulkey, it weaves a new tale with outrageous characters. It’s a story both droll and dark, told in chapters that deceptively head out into strange and unexpected territory, only to come gliding back to the main narrative like a flock of vultures circling in the Texas sky, awaiting the call to dinner.
Make no mistake–Eaton is serving us another helping of “Western noir,” dark as a cup of black coffee, but sweetened with a cream of Coenesque humor. The characters are deliciously weird, their personal stories, funny and shocking. The novel is well-edited and the writing is crisp and clear. My only quibble is that one minor character in a short chapter speaks in a phonetically-rendered dialect, which I found somewhat difficult. But no harm done. The book remains a solid five stars. I highly recommend it.