This is the third Heath Lowrance short story I have read and found it fantastic fun! It is a beautiful mixture of western/horror done with a certain amount of panache that makes the reading experience highly enjoyable. Once again our lone hero Hawthorne (read Clint Eastwood without the humour!) is on the trail of killer Bill Cobb and encounters "The Long Black Train". On board is a madman possessed by some form of black demonic magic who is dismantling the good passengers and making his own creation with their body parts...lovely :) When the madman boards the train he carries his neat valise, which he opens to reveal..."It was all there,shiny steel in slotted rows, Butcher knife, hacksaw, gutting blade, bone scrapper. The suture kit. All the tools he'd need for the journey" Now we the reader know we are in for some butchering fun! Hawthorne encounters some dismembered talking body parts (lovely!) "Hawthorne knelt down to examine the thing on the tracks. A human arm, severed, roughly at the elbow. The flesh of it was white, but blood still dripped from the stump. It showed no signs of attention from scavengers yet Hawthorne picked it up by the hand, surprised that it still felt fairly pliant. The fingers were long and lean, a woman's fingers. There was a gold ring on the index finger.....There was something evil at work here, and he could not rest now until it was burned away from the earth forever. In his hand the arm twitched. He dropped it and it thudded on the tracks, twitched again, and the fingers spasmed crazily and grabbed his boot. Hawthorne grunted in surprise, almost fell. He tried to shake the arm off, but it clung tight, with all the strength of a living limb. He reached down and gripped it by the writs, wrenched it off. The fingers curled and uncurled, groping. He threw in into the trees" When Hawthorne further encounters a talking torso he is directed to "The train...the long black train" Our hero finds and boards the train where he meets his killer Bill Cobb and encounters the madman..." A huge, bald man in a blood-stained suit stood at the far end of the car, knee-deep in the dead. He had a woman's corpse draped over a bench like a length of linen. He was carving off her head with a hacksaw"
The writing is taut and the combination of horror and western works flawlessly to produce a superb sustained and exciting little read....I will certainly read more by the wonderful Heath Lowrance :)