Black Jack Derringer: Book 1 The Ace of Spades
Karen Koehler

Skullvines Press 2009
Price, Format, Publication Date – Unavailable
Review by Kent Knopp-Schwyn

Moving away from her Slayer success, Ms. Koehler brings her readers along for a wild ride into the weird west.

After an uneven and short setup, the reader is introduced to the main players in this rollicking yarn. Wild West Alice is a self proclaimed bounty hunter forced to find a front man to shore up the legitimacy of her bounty hunting business in this male dominated milieu. And then there is Mr. Treen, an enigmatic albino conman with personality facets and hidden secrets that extend well beyond this first installment of a trilogy of novellas.

Steeped in dusty atmosphere and full of pulp-style twists, turns and dialogue, The Ace of Spades pits this seemingly mismatched pair against wily card sharps, deadly outlaws and townsfolk with secrets all their own. Inexorably, they are taken from one confrontation to the next until both Alice and Mr. Treen figure out that working together, they form a team that is able, in one way or another, to successfully take on all challenges.

Like the best novellas, The Ace of Spades provides the reader with a fine and fascinating tale in its own right. At the same time, the reader is left with the impression that this story is just one small piece in a larger world and more expansive story and the reader has the giddy delight upon completion of this yarn that there are more installments to come. Making The Ace of Spades a perfect set up for a hopefully long run of pulp style serial stories, novels and novellas set in this weird, and Wild West word of Black Jack Derringer.

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