Reviews: Tanzer, Molly

A Weird Western

Vermilion; the Adventures of Lou Merriweather, Psychopomp — Molly Tanzer

2015’s Vermilion; the Adventures of Lou Merriweather, Psychopomp is Molly Tanzer’s debut novel. It’s an example of something I call Weird Westerns , a cousin to works like Findley’s Tex Arcana and Sumner’s Devil’s Tower books.

Daughter of a white psychopomp and a Chinese apothecary, Elouise “Lou” Merriweather has taken up her father’s calling, sending the restless dead to the next world. It’s a dangerous calling, but as a person of mixed race (not to mention a woman who prefers men’s clothing) in the exuberantly bigoted world that is 19 th century America, it’s not as if Lou has a lot of career options open to her.

Now Lou is adding a new occupation to her career portfolio: consulting detective. Chinatown’s young men have been heading into the interior of Colorado, enticed by a dubious job offer. None have returned. The authorities could not care less what happens to Chinese-Americans, so it falls to Lou to accept a commission from her estranged mother and investigate the case of the disappearing men.

What she finds is

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