January 12, 2009

The Tall Stranger by Louis L'Amour

BOOK #: 4
CHALLENGES: A to Z, Genre Challenge, New Authors Challenge
GENRE: Fiction; Western
RATING: 3/5 Stars


Louis L'Amour is my father's favorite writer. He has a large collection of his books and has read them all. When my father recently became terminally ill, I decided to read one of these Westerns for myself to see what all the fuss was about.

The Tall Stranger is about a man named Rock Bannon who guides a train of settlers going to California. Only along the trip, they get duped into a plan set up by a con man named Mort Harper that they happen along on the trail. Bannon tells the settlers not to believe Harper, but Harper's smooth talking wins out. The settlers follow Harper's idea and realize too late that Bannon was right about Harper all along. And now there was an inevitable battle.

I liked the story. I thought it had a good plot and well-thought out characters. It took me a couple of chapters to get used to his storytelling style, but then I was in. One thing that kept tripping me up was his interchanging of the characters' names. What I mean by that is sometimes he would call him Rock, sometimes Bannon, and sometimes Rock Bannon. The girl in the book, Sharon, would be talking of her father and the father's name of Tom Crockett would be used instead of 'her father' or something more familiar to me. I thought there were a lot more characters at first because of the interchanging. I don't know if this is L'Amour's writing style or just something he did in this particular book, but I assume the former. It was hard for me to keep straight.

But the story was a good one. The descriptions of the mountains and the valleys and the plains were beautiful. The ending was rather abrupt and odd I thought, but it did tie up all of the loose ends.

I will have to read another of L'Amour's books to really get a feel for the style. I do not think I have ever read a classic Western before, so that was new to me as well. I will ask my dad which is his favorite story. I am sure he will have trouble choosing just one.

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