A Congregation of Jackals is S Craig Zahler’s first published novel and it is worthy of your time. This book feels like a standard Western but it morphs slowly into the themes and chaos that Zahler has become more famous for.
When a retired bank robbing gang receive wedding invitations from one of their own they all journey back to be together for the first time since their younger, and more active, days. Unfortunately, alongside their rendezvous plans there are also malevolent machinations in the air.
Once again I have been completely drawn in by S Craig Zahler’s style and prose. Nominally centring around one of the gang, Oswell, you nevertheless feel like you have been given a complete picture of all of the other characters in the story and from that you understand their strengths, weaknesses and their motivations and credit goes again to Zahler for managing to do this with a large cast. He also doesn’t shy away from writing about horrific violence or the nastier elements of life at that time and the book is all the better for it.
With his great ability to give you a good grounding to the characters, Zahler is able to advance the plot onwards whenever he needs to and this quite often adds to the excitement, never feeling bogged down in any way. The building pace of the narrative as the various pieces slot into place is fantastically well done and I motored through the second half of this novel, relishing the approaching maelstrom and the atmosphere that it brought with it.
Not much more I can say about this book except that if you have liked any of his other books then this is going to be a sure thing for you. And if you haven’t read any of his books, what are you waiting for?