This is one hell of a novel; the story of Jack Grice, a boy born in 1861 into civilized American society, orphaned early, and put on his own in the old West living hard scrabble. The style is simple, just clear coherent story telling with a flavor halfway between a compelling documentary and a novel. Kind of Ken Burns meets Louis L'Amour. But what a story! It reads like a journey with no breaks, a straight line through the late 1800’s with Grice becoming a cook, a leather worker, a cowboy, an outlaw, a carney, a James Harris, a businessman and… a murderer?
He travels steadily, relentlessly West and lives more lives than I can count in these riveting pages which held me the whole time. Early on in his career he makes a lifelong enemy, a vicious criminal who dogs Jack through his years of struggle to survive in the cruel and violent panorama of the Old West. Jack’s character invents and continually re-invents himself with an astonishing air of intelligence and adaptability. I was fascinated with his life and his wit and survivalist ability to thrive in spite of killer adversity.
If you’re not a habitual reader of Westerns (which I am not) don’t be hesitant about the genre. READ THIS BOOK. This writer and his style and storytelling ability could make an epic out of the making of a peanut butter sandwich. If I could give more than 5 stars I would.