Tuesday, July 22, 2014

VALDEZ IS COMING by Elmore Leonard


Quiet, part-time town constable Roberto Valdez is called in when a mob has tracked down a black man who is accused by Tanner, a rich businessman in town, of being an Army deserter and murderer. Roberto tries to diffuse the situation and is forced to shoot the man, who was holed up in a house with his pregnant girlfriend and turned out to be totally innocent. When Valdez goes to Tanner to ask for reparations for the man's wife, Tanner's crew beats Roberto and tries to crucify him, leaving him for dead. They should have made sure they finished the job. Because everyone in town underestimated him. And only a few remember that Bob Valdez used to be a real badass back in the day, and when he comes for you, he comes strong. He's already tried to talk to them as civilized men but they wouldn't listen. But this time, maybe they'll listen to bullets.

This early Elmore Leonard western showcases the same lean and witty prose that eventually made his later crime novels so popular. Sparse and direct writing work so well with Western fiction, and Leonard was one of the best writers in the genre. There are not many wasted pages in the book and I love the classic tale of a man who has shelved his violent past, but must bring it back in order to right a major wrong. A fast and enjoyable read.

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