Friday, 23 January 2009
FRIDAY'S FORGOTTEN BOOKS
CONCEPT - Pattie Abbott - check our her wonderful blog for more Forgotten Books.
Bantem £5.99 UK
I'm not sure if any L'amour book is really forgotten, they're all still in print, but I'm including this post in The Forgotten Books series because some folk, particularly those new to the western may enjoy reading about it.
James T. Kettleman became a legend in the West at the age of seventeen when he gunned down several men who had just shot his friend, Flint. After that incident the boy escaped to New York and became a successful businessman.
Now many years later Kettleman is dying from an incurable cancer but he does not want to die here in New York, with a loveless wife by his side and so, for the second time in his life, he vanishes. He knows he must die but he wants this to to be his own terms - incidentally this predates the John Wayne movie The Shootist by more than fifteen years.
Heading West Kettleman goes to an hideout he shared with Flint all those years ago. He tames a wild horse and despite wanting to be left alone to die he becomes involved in a range war. Taking on the identity of Flint he sides with Nancy Kerrigan against the vicious Buckdun faction.
"Legend was born that night in Kansas, and the story of the massacre at The Crossing was told and retold over many a campfire. Neither the man at the card table nor the boy that carried him away was known, and both vanished as if the earth had opened up to recieve them."
This is a lot darker than most of L'amour's books and stands out, in my mind, as one of his best. If you fancy a western then you'll be in the hands of a master here, period detail, little splashes of colour and the speech patterns are spot on. L'amour's knowledge of guns, horses and the cowboy lifestyle is always bang on the mark which is gratifying for an amateur historian of the Old West.
A bloody good book.
The only complaint I have is that whoever wrote the blurb on the back of the book (and I'm reading the current BANTEM paperback) seems to have not read the damn thing and Kettleman is referred to as Flint in the enticing but inaccurate blurb. Though I must congratulate them on the mean and moody cover image by Gordon Crabb
Still it's the book that counts and it's a belter.
RELATED: Next week on The Tainted Archive I will proudly publish a review with Beau L'amour about his father's rich legacy.
Posted by Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin at 01:42