The Hangman feeds the Jackal by Coy Hall
Being an account of how The Austrian was won over to Westerns
Coy Hall’s novel, The Hangman feeds the Jackal, is at its heart, a western written by an established Horror writer, with paranormal/psychological overtones. The horror injected into the novel takes the form of an unrelenting camera lens on the myriad deaths that occur in the pages you flick through, unable to pull yourself from the relentless march of Hall’s plot. The character work and world-building are sublime - I found myself shaking my head multiple times in admiration of the build towards the powerhouse ending Coy leads us by the nose to, unable to look away and wanting it all never to end.
And this is a Western.
Elijah Valero is the perfectly flawed hero of the tale, though wonderfully absent from a large percentage of the book, as Hall trains his razor-sharp focus on his other main characters. In fact, almost all of the characters were so well-realized, it was hard to honestly say there were any side characters – even the damn stable boy had me grinning from ear to ear because of how he was written. The bad guys are despicable. The flawed sheriff has you rooting for him and his stubborn refusal to die. Valero is kick ass.
This book is phenomenal. "Roller-coaster" doesn’t even begin to describe it. I considered reading it a second time right after I finished because I didn’t want to leave the world I had just devoured. I might very well have affected a Clint Eastward voice to my reading every time Valero spoke. I know I wanted to say “Pardner” to my friends when I met them. What Hall has achieved here is nothing short of remarkable – he got me reading (and loving) a Western. Not only that, I didn't want to stop. I need more.
The ending is immensely satisfying. The violence sudden and wonderfully clean in its presentation, horror through perfect description. It is raw, brutal, and unflinching. It is mesmerizing and gut-wrenching. It is magnificent.
Brilliant. Outstanding work, Coy.
5 out of 5 ⭐ ‘s
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