“The devil’s agents may be of flesh and blood, may they not?” - Arthur Conan Doyle

Author Richard Dawes’ novel ‘EL Diablo,’ ninth book in the Tucson Kid Western series, has Tucson, the gun slinging hero of the story, taking on evil powers and dark forces in Mexico. Operating outside the law, yet doing so to bring down evil men, has been Tucson’s norm. But in El Diablo, he not only fights to overcome murderous thugs and bandits, but must also take on powerful dark Gods, and the black sorcerers who wage war and violence in the name of those Gods.

Those readers who have followed Tucson’s exploits from book one (although the series is not a chronological representation of Tucson’s life), will have noticed the repeated telling of Tucson’s famed battle with the legendary outlaw, Augustine Baca. It has become a folk tale by which Tucson’s greatness and fighting prowess are measured and celebrated. But all that should change after his adventures in this edition and his epic fight with the powerful magician, EL Diablo.

In previous stories, Tucson fought some of the most nefarious characters the old west had to offer. No matter how ruthless these fights were, however, the reader always knew that Tucson, with his superior fighting skills, would prevail in the end. But in this story, he has to fight an evil man who has supernatural powers attained through black magic and sorcery. Additionally, Tucson must go against a minion of EL Diablo - a vampire named Lilith able to suck the strength from her opponents. In this story, Richard Dawes has not only thrown the sink at Tucson, but the whole kitchen as well, as he faces his greatest enemies to date.

It would be unfortunate if EL Diablo and Lilith were not given their own space. The author gave them great powers, and evil surrounds them at all times. Yet he provides insights into their minds by revealing their thoughts, which surprisingly strike the reader as human and mortal. Fear of failure and death looms large on their list of worries. This humanizes them and presents these characters, though highly evil, as real people with much to lose.

In El Diablo, Tucson is in top form, and full credit must be given to the author for maintaining continuity in the character's persona through all nine stories. From the initial scenes where he is shown living an existential existence, through every step he takes as he strides through the story, the famed Tucson code of action is a prominent factor in the narrative.

The action scenes, from the first one involving an outlaw called Jake, to picking off El Diablo’s men one by one, shows the finesse and expertise of the author in this genre. As always, nature plays an important role in the narrative, and is not merely used as background. The respect for it shows throughout.

A definite read!

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