Brooke and Sugar, two brothers, more than brothers, a little different than brothers, are killers for hire.

Casual violence and the intimations of a ghost story when the young nameless boy with the blank palms appears. And then things get horrific.

Brooke and Sugar are captured, separated. Tragedy results. Death. Mindless violence. The two brothers never see each other again. The death of one of them happens at a distance, at the hands of someone who is trying to do good and completely misunderstands the situation.

The violence is sudden. The cannibal is awful. And Sugar’s pregnancy and delivery is surreal. And there is, of course, the high comedy of the high tension scenes of violence.

It’s a western so the temptation is to compare it to Blood Meridian. Amoral monsters wandering around dispensing offhand brutal violence, the urge to invoke St. Cormac is understandable. But the two, while possessing certain genetics in common, are dissimilar enough that Haints Stay can be enjoyed on its own merits. Winnette’s a good writer. And he’s got his own way of telling a story.

Short, sharp sentences, rather than the rolling, ornate utterances of Blood Meridian.

Very stylized dialogue. The two children, orphaned by violence and massacre, don’t really talk as real children would. It seems like that’s a requirement for Westerns, very stylized dialogue. Even Deadwood was that way. More of the influence of St. Cormac on the entire genre, I suppose.

An abrupt ending that echos with the tragedies to come.

Every bit of happiness in the book contains sadness or evil. The only certainty is that there will be violence to come.

A short book and a very good one. Very highly recommended.
Next up: Savage Messiah by Laura Oldfield Ford