Monday, June 30, 2014

Louis L’Amour Passin’ Through (1985)

     Louis L’Amour Passin’ Through (1985) Passin’ Through is the narrator’s nickname. He’s a drifter who doesn’t like being shot at, and the first thing he does in Parrot City is kill Burrows, a man who challenges him. The victim’s friends decide to hang Passin’, but instead of breaking his neck they leave him to choke to death. An Indian woman and her boy whom he’d helped a scant hour before cut him down, and so save his life. He rides on and arrives at a ranch with two women. One thing leads to another, he stays on to help them, but they are not what they seem. There’s some doubt about who actually owns the ranch, Burrows’ friends want to finish their revenge, and assorted other bad guys tangle the plot. The tale ends with knots untangled and Passin’ married to the rightful owner of the ranch.
     L’Amour’s skill at making the landscape present to us is as high as ever, his plotting is complicated but clear enough, and driven by character. The first person narrator is unusual for him, and tricky to handle when you’re writing romance, which demands stereotyped heroes and villains. Passin’s sidebars about himself make the story sound like one long reminiscence, which adds to the believability of the man, who may be uneducated, but has more than his share of common sense, and a strong sense of right and wrong, a trait that makes him stay and participate in the mess despite his equally strong misgivings.
     Another well done Western romance by a master of the genre. ***

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