By James W. Marvin
Piccadilly Publishing, July 2014
Originally published by Corgi, 1982
Time was when Crow found himself in Rosa Cruz, Arizona. Down on his luck – sick and stony broke. A time when the most menial of tasks would be welcome if it enabled him to eat. So when Ben Ford and the Spangel family ask Crow to guide them out West, he gladly agrees. He soon regrets his rashness, for the Reverend Spangel is a fiery, bible-thumping puritan, while his wife is half-witted. And almost all Crow’s charges are blind…
James W. Marvin is a pseudonym used by Laurence James and in Crow he surely managed to create the ultimate anti-hero. There’s not a lot about the man called Crow to like but that is what makes him so fascinating, what keeps me coming back for more.
James also seemed to enjoy creating characters that border on craziness, and this book contains a fistful of them, in name the Spangel family. Yet Crow just cannot bring himself to leave them to fend for themselves. Forms some kind of bond with the Spangel’s guide, Ben Ford, who is crippled.
The story isn’t complicated. The Spangel’s are searching for a place to settle down and during their travels are set upon by various groups of people who see them as easy pickings. Crow stops them the only way he knows how, unafraid of taking on massive odds alone. The action is described in all its graphic savagery.
There are plenty of killings and as expected not all of Crow’s group survive. One of their deaths being a surprise in how it happens. The trail will also bring out the best and worse in the Spangel family and some shocking revelations soon surface but Crow takes it all in his stride.
Overall this is a decent entry in the Crow series and at the price Piccadilly Publishing sells it for how can you not afford to give it a try?