It’s a hard thing to be a living legend. To be told by a prophet of God that if you never cut your hair no bullet nor blade can harm you. True enough, in some twenty-five since the night he had received that unusual blessing it had been absolutely correct. Blessed like Samson of old, Porter was promised incredible things and so far, they had proved one hundred percent correct. Porter bore no scars on his rangy body at all. And it wasn’t like he didn’t spend his life in the thick of things. He had been a scout, frontiersman, bodyguard and now lawman all without a single wound. But he still found himself ducking and dodging and fighting his way out of scraps. He didn’t stand around and let himself get hit, no sir. That’d be like tempting fate, and Porter wasn’t about to do that.
I didn’t realize that Porter Rockwell was a real historical personage until I opened up this book. He was, and he lived a fascinating life. He has to rank pretty high on a list of people criminally underappreciated by the Western genre (along with Bass Reeves).
Scavengers has Porter caught up in a hunt for buried treasure that may or may not be cursed.
West writes with a good voice for a Western. Muscular. Laconic. Understated.
“‘You’d be surprised,’ answered Porter, ‘at what a little blood loss can do to a monster.’”
Porter Rockwell is an outlaw turned lawman. Running a fugitive down gets Porter caught up in the aforementioned hunt for buried treasure. A treasure that everyone from outlaws to bandits to cavalrymen to Utes are chasing. Porter falls in mainly with a black cavalryman named Quincy, and Roxy, a runaway with a magic faro table.
There weren’t as many SF aspects as I expected or hoped for. There is a buried treasure that may or may not be cursed, that is protected in any event by some Indiana Jones-style traps. There is a magic faro table and Porter may or may not be protected by God. Not that I don’t like stories that play around at the speculative edges, but I was a little thrown off just because it wasn’t quite what I expected.
But that is criticizing a story for what it isn’t rather than what it is. What it is is a fun weird western yarn that Robert E. Howard would have been proud of—or at least been happy to sell.
4 of 5 Stars.