Sunday, February 21, 2010
10. The Law at Randado by Elmore Leonard
(Note: I just came back from a 10-day vacation with lots of reading time during which I completed 9 novels, so expect a rush of reviews over the next couple of days. I'm going to be backdating them to the day that I read them, so they may not show up at the top of your blog reader.)
Another gripping, intense and satisfying western from Elmore Leonard's earlier days. I really got into this one. It's the classic young deputy going up against the more powerful, but morally weaker, men of the town. Leonard takes the theme and draws it out, playing around with it for a bit. It makes for a rich read, where you are really wanting the satisfying ass-kicking, but get drawn into a cool back story on the young deputy and where he gets his skills and mettle from (partly from hanging out with other young Indians, a recurring theme with Leonard).
The story here is that instead of waiting for the visiting judge from the larger city to the north, the wealthier citizens of Randado decide to form their own justice committee and hang two Mexican cattle thievers while the deputy sherrif is out of town. They are pressured by a young and out-of-control cattle baron (inherited from his better, but dying, father, of course). When the deputy comes back, he decides to arrest the members of the committee and the confrontation builds. It's not just a contest of strength, but also one of politics, as he must win the confidence of the townspeople as well.
A great read. Pick it up if you find and it and need to be reminded what it means to be a man.
(Unfortunately, the image above is not the one from the actual version of the book I read. I purposely left my copy in the common bookshelf in a hotel in Quito and was quite pleased to see that someone had taken it a couple days later. Except I had forgotten to take a picture of it! It was one of those classic photographed late '70s covers with a picture of a gun and a badge. Not as cool as the vintage illustration pictured here.)