Monday, 23 April 2012
The Magnificent Two
Both review come from Amazon and we start with The Ballad of Delta Rose
Grim stuff, this. After more than 20 years away, Delta returns to the ranch he started with Etta James. He upped and left, itchy to make it rich elsewhere. He always planned on coming back - but it took him over two decades to get around to it. The main reason probably had something to do with the bullet lodged in his chest, working its way towards his heart. Delta was on borrowed time.
When he learns that he has a son by Etta, and the boy's running with the wrong crowd, Delta finds a reason for living. If only for a little while longer - so he can seek redemption and turn the boy away from the road of crime.
Jack Martin's third novel is sombre affair about lost chances. There's some good writing in here, too:
"With death peering over a man's shoulder, its icy breath felt on the back of a man's neck, everything was enhanced. The cobalt sky was saturated and the landscape vividly exaggerated."
Etta has problems, it seems, not only from her wayward son. Despotic Maxwell King owns half the town and now wants to own her. Which isn't too surprising, since Etta's "beauty was more than physical. It came from within, a radiance that positively shone in her eyes."
There's also a humorous cross-reference to the earlier novel, Arkansas Smith.
Delta is a man of few words, but, despite his days being numbered, he won't compromise on right and wrong. He'll fight for what is right. Which makes him a dangerous man - since he has nothing to lose.
And Arkansas Smith
There is a sadness about Arkansas Smith that I found unsettling and yet compelling. He has a "void deep inside himself that felt on times like a cavity in his soul. It was a need for identity that would always be there and would never be fulfilled." He's a man of few words and when he smiles, it's a grim smile that hints at a lot of tragedies played out in the past. He is an enigma who keeps his personal history to himself and who doesn't offer up too many explanations. While we are caught up in the dilemma at hand, we are never allowed to forget that we are dealing with a mysterious man here who has a few bones to pick with the world. In the post-modern world, he would be diagnosed as clinically depressed. In the 19th century western, though, he's simply trying to deal with the hand that's been dealt him
I'd like to thank both reviewers and direct the rest of you towards the new spangled eBook of Arkansas Smith HERE