This is a short Elmore Leonard western (232 pages) that I read in a day on the way back from vacation in the Mayan Riviera. It went fast and was a boat load of fun, which made the flight seem really, really short. That’s a great combo.
Elmore Leonard’s westerns are different from his crime novels in that they’re usually shorter – written more like a screenplay (seems like almost all of them have been made into movies). They’re also considerably less humorous and even the dark characters don’t have a lighter side.
The main character, Valdez, goes to war with a criminal and it’s not pretty. Here’s the passage at the half way point that set the tone for the war:
Valdez smiled. “Pray for me.”
A little while later they watched him leave to begin his war: the Valdez from another time, the Valdez in leather chivarra pants and the long-barreled Walker Colt on his right thigh, carrying his shotgun and a Sharps carbine and field glasses and a big canteen and a warbag for the ham and biscuits, the Valdez no one had seen in ten years. (page 106)
I shut the book at this point, took a break somewhere over the Gulf of Mexico, and smiled. This is gonna be good, I said to myself.