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Review: The Good, the Bad and the Infernal / Author: Guy Adams / Publisher: Solaris / Release Date: Out Now 

If Guy Adams hadn't landed himself a successful career as a novelist, he would have made a great snake oil salesmen, to judge by how convincingly he pens this tall tale of supernatural cowboys and steampunk Indians. It's about three groups of people – including a bunch of explorers and philosopher monks travelling by Land Carriage (a sort of trackless locomotive) and a band of ex-sideshow freaks turned ruthless desperadoes – searching for a place called Wormwood. Appearing once every hundred years, this legendary ghost town is said to offer a gateway into Heaven itself, but it doesn't like to be found and woe betide anyone who goes looking for it.

Cyborg Apaches, deadly blizzards and a sleepless overnight stay in Serpent's Creek (“The clue's in the name”) are only some of the trials on offer, and Adams shapes each and every one of them into splendid action-packed set-pieces. The real joy of the novel, though, lies its vivid cast of characters, such as Henry Jones, the sharpshooter whose dark glasses hide a face without eyes, and Roderick Quartershaft, the timid hack forced to adopt the persona of a Great White Hunter in order to sell books 

It has its flaws. As the first part of a trilogy, it reads like a fragment of a longer work rather than something complete in itself, and it's also very much a yarn – high concept, with a slightly prefab feel to the way it's been assembled. Nonetheless, fans of Adams should saddle up for an enjoyable ride.

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