Wednesday, 2 February 2011
I love western movies and have seen plenty of them. This was my first western novel and I must say I am very impressed.
This is the story of Mattie Ross; a rather naive but remarkably headstrong young girl who hires infamous US Marshall Reuben ‘Rooster’ Cogburn to help her track down the man who murdered her father. With the help of LaBoeuf; a Texas Ranger on the trail of the same killer, the trio track the fugitive through the wilds of the southern US until a final fiery showdown.
The story is famous because of the 1969 movie with John Wayne starring as the eye-patch wearing, hard drinking and world weary Rooster. I didn’t remember much about this movie so I read the book not knowing much about the story. I’m glad I did as I like coming to a book ‘in the dark’ so to speak. I believe the reason I found it on the shelf of an English bookshop is due to the imminent release of the 2010 remake starring Jeff Bridges.
The book is short; barely more than 200 pages. The pace is excellent and not too much detail is given to things that don’t matter (no six page descriptions of landscapes here!) the characters are first class as is the amount of detail and personality given to them, even fairly minor ones. There is some excellent, memorable dialogue and figures of speech from the period make it more vivid and believable. There are some genuinely funny moments which had me chuckling and all in all the story exudes an air of authenticity. It is so well written it transports you to the period effortlessly.
No western would be complete without gun battles. Thankfully the author got the balance just right as there are plenty of gunfights but not too many that it cheapens the story. Of course there is bloody violence in the book which was, of course, glossed over in the 1969 Hollywood version, but it is to be expected and only adds to the realism of the book.
All in all I was thoroughly impressed and this book has given me a real taste for more westerns
Final verdict 4/5