Friday, June 26, 2009

The Law at Randado

Even though I didn't get to read at lunchtime for the past two days due to work commitments, I still finished up The Law at Randado, by Elmore Leonard pretty quickly. This is one of his first novels published, way back in 1954 and although he is known today as one of the all time great mystery writers, Elmore Leonard actually began his writing career with a handfull of westerns.

I enjoy taking a break from my more usual Louis L'Amour westerns because, let's face it, they do tend to be somewhat formula driven. In this book, Mr Leonard includes some of those classic western features: a green lawman, an evil cattle barron and his henchmen, and ultimately the showdown between the two. But other than that this book, like the other 3 Elmore Leonard westerns I've read, doesn't follow traditional formulas all that much. The premise is that the town of Randado has decided it doesn't need to wait for the formal legal system of the larger town many miles away so they take action on their own. They appoint their own judge and jury and proceed to drag two Mexicans from their jail cell and hang them. When the deputy sheriff returns, he must confront those that behaved illegally. Most of the novel is the resulting chase, trying to bring the bad guys to justice. I know that sounds pretty much like a formula western novel but it is Mr Leonard's style that makes the difference. His characters are not all black or white but rather colorful, filled with doubts of what course of action to take. In short, they are more "real" than one often finds in the western genre. The plot isn't exactly straight-forward and therefore is not so predictable. I'll continue to recommend Elmore Leonard's western novels to those who like westerns or those that just like a good story that won't take hours and hours to complete.

I was also able to finish up another Stephen King short story from his Skeleton Crew collection. "The Raft" was a straight-up, no holds barred horror story. It's about a group of four college kids that decide to swim out to a raft that floats in the middle of a lake. An un-named horror that has the form of an oil slick takes them out one by one in a very gruesome manner. There is no subtlety here nor "deeper meaning", just flat-out straight-forward horror. I loved it.

Next up is the second in my Amazon "Vine" review program: Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey.

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Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

  • "The Sculpter" by Gregory Funaro
  • "Power Down" by Ben Coes
  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
  • "Black Rain" by Graham Brown
  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire