Blood West

Written by Thomas D. Clagett
Review by Bethany Latham

Vampires in the Old West may seem like an odd mash-up, but Clagett has blended genres into an entertaining read. Las Vegas is a small town in 1885, but it’s home to the impressive Montezuma Hotel, which caters to rich guests as well as semi-permanent residents, members of the Lunger Club—those seeking relief from their tuberculosis in the dry, warm air of the West. Several town locals meet violent deaths, and Deputy Sheriff Antonio Valdes initially puts it down to wolf attack. Father Lanigan, a local priest, knows better. When the killings continue and begin to impact the Montezuma’s bottom line, Pinkerton agent Hattie Lawton arrives at the hotel, undercover, to ferret out what she begins to suspect is a murderer. She and Valdes must work together to expose the deadly creature in their midst.

This is a fast-paced read with sympathetic characters, enough tension to draw the reader along, and bursts of action which will ensure appeal for fans of traditional Westerns. The premise could make for an entirely ridiculous read. Instead, Clagett breathes new life into the Gothic genre with his Western setting, where individuals from a variety of ethnicities and backgrounds blend together in the rough and tumble of the New Mexico Territory. The result is an enjoyable couple of hours of Western Gothic escapism.