I’d tried to read some Louis L’Amour novels ages ago, and they hadn’t kept my interest enough for me to finish them. A few years ago I somehow ended up reading an excerpt from one of his Sackett novels and immediately fell in love with his way with words.
The description, via Goodreads:
He left the West at the age of seventeen, leaving behind a rootless past and a bloody trail of violence. In the East he became one of the wealthiest financiers in America—and one of the most feared and hated.
Now, suffering from incurable cancer, he has come back to New Mexico to die alone. But when an all-out range war erupts, Flint chooses to help Nancy Kerrigan, a local rancher. A cold-eyed speculator is setting up the land swindle of a lifetime, and Buckdun, a notorious assassin, is there to back his play.
Flint alone can help Nancy save her ranch…with his cash, his connections—and his gun. He still has his legendary will to fight. All he needs is time, and that’s fast running out….
This was a great book.
True, the characters were frequently little more than archetypes, but they managed to be distinctive enough nonetheless that I didn’t care. Flint himself was a very interestingly complex character that I wish L’Amour had written more about.
Despite seeing many reviews that talk about how predictable all of L’Amour’s westerns are, this one had plot twists I didn’t see coming. That was nicely unexpected.
But the absolute best thing about the book was the way the setting was described. I would give an arm or something to be able to describe places as well as L’Amour. Even with little clue what some of the words meant — this was also the first physical book I’ve ever read that had me wishing I was reading an ebook so I could more easily look things up, which is a plus in my opinion as I’m sick of books being written for the lowest common denominator — I still was able to picture things wonderfully. And he managed these descriptions without getting either overly technical nor overly florid. That is talent.
Really, the only problems I had with the book were that either grammar rules have changed since it was written or it needed a better copyeditor and that occasionally it was a bit redundant — again, a sign that maybe it needed a better editor. So, maybe more a 4.5 than a five star book, but it was still good enough that I’ll definitely be reading more L’Amour westerns!
Gods, that review sounds pretentious. I don’t know why the fuck I did it that way. Anyway, it was a really, really good book, and I would probably sell my soul for a quarter of L’Amour’s talent for describing places.