The Curse of Jacob Tracy by Holly Messinger

Trace is a Civil War veteran – wounded in Antietam, he would spend nearly two yearsjacob tracy afterward in a morphine haze.  And seeing things.  Ever since the battle, Trace has been able to see the dead.  As such, he prefers being in places where there’s a decided lack of history (i.e. people dying) so he can keep his visitors to a minimum.

Eighteen years later, Trace and his partner Boz make a living leading settlers out west and ranching.  Other jobs come their way – easily the most intriguing one so far is a task requested by a Sabine Fairweather, an English woman living in St. Louis, who wants Trace to get an artifact from a nearby town, and she’ll pay good money.

Some unnerving days later, Miss Fairweather gets what she wanted, and Trace is ever more curious as to his changing abilities.  And so there are other excursions, and things get ever stranger.  There are some odd critters and odd…entities wherever Trace goes, and they seem drawn to him, in addition to a persistent presence known as the Russian.

The Curse of Jacob Tracy brings a nice touch of the Weird West to the forefront, along with the fears and prejudices of the newly settled parts of the United States in the 1880s.  There’s scary things here, and some gore, so bear this in mind.  The book is also fairly dialogue-heavy and written in a serial style, but I think Messinger captures the feel of the Old West pretty well.  It’s a spirited first novel, and I wonder if there will be more to come from her.

(William Hicks, Information Services)





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