St. Louis Sam and the Desperados

Written by Pinkie Paranya
Review by Susan Lowell

Across a salsa-red cover, three cowboy silhouettes ride into the sunset. It’s impossible not to smile at them, and equally impossible not to smile as their unserious story unfolds. This isn’t so much a novel as a costume party with a Western/romance theme allowing an occasional touch of Looney Tunes, steampunk, and melodrama—all PG and PC. It’s 1874. Instead of Yosemite Sam, spunky Samantha arrives, accompanied by her greenhorn brother, in Powder Keg, a preposterous Wild West town supposedly located near Tombstone (various Earps appear as minor characters). In fact, Tombstone wasn’t founded till 1879 and Arizona was entirely Earpless in 1874. But authenticity isn’t required at costume parties. Hell-bent on righteous revenge against their wicked uncle, Sam and her brother recruit a gang of misfit desperados: a strong, silent Native American, a gay caballero, a Hispanic who thinks the word for stagecoach is autobús, an expatriate Brit who thinks Victorian England is ruled by a king, and a tall antihero/hero with sensuous lips. Mayhem ensues, concluded happily of course by not one, not two, but three weddings!