There’s blood, and then there’s cold blood. Robert Dean’s intense second novel The Red Seven, from Necro Publications, has plenty of both. Out to avenge his brother’s family, an infamous bounty hunter known only as The Ghost hunts the seven killers responsible for the murders. “One more crooked cross planted in the ground in the name of revenge,” the first page promises, and Dean is as good as his word.
The Red Seven revels in its Western roots. Fans of the genre will find plenty to like here — Dean is liberal in his interpretation of “revenge,” and The Ghost’s creative side shows as he ekes out bloody redemption from anyone who crosses him. Familiar tropes help hold the novel together as it races on. Women with soft hands and smoldering eyes, pasty Irishmen, vultures, innocent children dressed in white, French-speaking prostitutes, toothless Mexicans: you name it, and The Red Seven has it. Instead of feeling overstuffed or trite, however, Dean’s no-holds-barred novel is satisfying and dense. This is an author who’s acutely aware of his literary tradition and turns that knowledge to good use. The obvious comparison is Tarantino or Frank Miller, set against a lush, Southern backdrop: “The thick cedar scent of East Texas intoxicated the senses while the acres of staggering floral beauty enraptured him. Soon, the flowers would erupt into a volcano of vibrant reds, and cool blues within a sea of green in the long fields.”
Of course, it isn’t all gunslingers and gaudy whores. Despite the super-gory subject material, Dean shows a deft hand. The Red Seven demonstrates balance and, believe it or not, restraint. Dean knows when to push the throttle down and when to ease off — alternating landscapes with bloodbaths, he balances all-too-familiar phrases and characters with excellent, wry humor and a self-awareness that is rare in a young novelist. Dean is one to watch, especially as he continues to flesh out his personal style and explore new themes within the Western genre.
Fast-paced, graphic, and as Western as they come, The Red Seven will choke you dry and leave you breathless, sweaty, and satisfied.
Order your copy from Necro Publications/Bedlam Press: https://necropublications.com/collections/the-red-seven-by-robert-dean