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Fatal Elixir

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

When medicine man Theophrastus Herkimer and his traveling show come to town, he brings death for an unsuspecting crowd of innocent men, women, and children who buy and consume his magic elixir, Ozono. The sheriff is stricken from drinking the mysterious concoction, and as the townspeople’s anger rises, there are fears they may lynch Dr. Herkimer before the sheriff recovers and restores order. Former lawman Lobo Blacke, who took over the running of the local newspaper after a gunshot wound paralyzed him from the waist down, steps in to save the day. He dispatches the only person he has available to act in the sheriff’s place: Quinn Booker, a local reporter. Quinn gets himself deputized and forestalls the lynching by putting Dr. Herkimer and his beautiful assistant into jail. He starts an investigation which shows that Dr. Herkimer is not the fraud he was thought to be but instead is a well-trained medical doctor. Only the final batch of elixir contained the poison, and further investigation points to Harold Collier as the prime suspect. Harold had turned blue from another patent medicine, and everyone thinks he is out for revenge by causing the blame for the recent deaths to fall on this medicine man.

Quinn finds himself confronting a whole slew of problems, including an escaped convict who had vowed vengeance on whoever had caused his young son’s death with the fatal elixir. Quinn sidesteps disaster after disaster with aplomb, but it is due more to dumb luck and fortuitous circumstances than to skill.

Quinn’s forte is words, and he uses them to his advantage not only to save the town but to tell his tale. The West may not remain wild for long with Quinn to tame it.