Book #31

Adonias Low by D.A. Watson

To lawmen and bad men alike, the "Low Man" is a ghost story. The most feared bounty hunter to ever walk the territories. Whispered to be a Native American shapeshifter, a renegade Pinkerton detective, or the Bible-quoting son of a mad preacher. No one knows for sure. He’s a spectre outlaws scare each other with around campfires.

Adonias Lowe lives in the highlands of Napa Valley with his children, scratching a hard living as a farmer and occasional wagon guard. When a wealthy gin baron hires him to see a valuable shipment safely to San Francisco, the opportunity comes just in time to keep the family afloat.

But, when the job turns into a massacre, and his daughter is abducted by a deviant killer, Adonias is forced into a reckoning that will awaken a darkness he’s long tried to bury. As the corpses mount up, a dying sheriff tries to make sense of the madness, scalp hunters saddle up and ride for blood, fame and riches, and the local Wailaki are coming down from the hills, singing war songs of the Lost White Brother.

Watson begins by weaving the legend of the Low man - a threatening bounty hunter with an almost supernatural ability to detect and murder even the most cunning and well-hidden criminal. Killers, rapists, and thieves have equal levels of respect and fear for this unstoppable force, and I was desperate to meet him and study his work.

And yet, when I met the Low man, the formidable Adonias Low, he was nothing but a humble farmer, a family man with twin teenagers, and a respected member of his community. I was confused - could this be the Low man or have I misunderstood something along the way?

An excellent job is done in building up characters. I was made to understand their histories and motivations, their current situations and to some extent, their dreams. For a while I fooled myself into thinking I was reading a nice little historical fiction novel, until the local gin distributor asks Adonias to travel alongside one of his deliveries as security. That was when shit hit the fan, and that was when I met the Low man.

There’s some glorious macabre horror here, everything from disgustingly well-painted gore, to the unsettling mindsets of some characters. Watson has it all here, physical terror, emotional terror, the terror of the unknown, and the terror of other people. I was newly enthralled and disgusted constantly, with the evil and destruction creating an irrevocable sense of chaos which only grew larger the further I read.

An excellent story for those who love a thriller, and particularly for those who wouldn’t usually pick up a western. Adonias Low and his superhuman ability to track, kill, and survive, will grab you by the collar and shake you until your skull shatters.