Dec 022015

Cover for Holly Messinger's The Curse of Jacob Tracy. The title on paper like an Old West wanted poster. Above, bats flying in front of a full moon. Below, the silhouettes of two cowboys surrounded by ghostly figures.Booklist: Messinger successfully sets Catholic theology and the occult against an authentic Old West backdrop to create a richly detailed, suspenseful debut. Jacob “Trace” Tracy nearly died in the Civil War, but with his recovery came the ability to see and talk to the dead, a most unwelcome curse as far as he is concerned. The cowboy life suits him, since the dead are more bountiful in large cities, and he and his capable partner, Boz, make a living doing ranch work and guiding homesteaders out West. When Trace takes on a seemingly simple job to retrieve an item from nearby Missouri, he is unaware that his employer, an eccentric Englishwoman named Sabine Fairweather, knows about Trace’s psychic abilities and has more than a passing interest in him. As the novel unfolds, Trace battles demonic beasts, spirits, and sundry other creatures, all the while trying to understand and control his own burgeoning powers. The indefatigable Boz is the perfect sidekick: at once supportive, chastising, and supremely protective (Trace and Boz squabble like an old married couple). Fans of horror and the Weird West will want more of Jacob Tracy, and while Messinger wraps up the ending nicely, there are plenty of dark forces lurking in the shadows suggesting that sequels could be in the offing