Loving just about every story Beat to a Pulp publish on their site, I looked forward to this. I don’t know why, I’m not mad for Westerns, unless they feature Clint smoking a cheroot and casually pushing his poncho to the side ready to slug lead into a squinty-eyed nemesis.
I couldn’t help picture a young Eastwood as this book’s hero, Cash Laramie, but unfortunately the book didn’t live up to expectations.
It starts with a young Laramie saving an older woman from a bunch of male chauvinists, killing one and helping send the rest to prison. She then beds him, despite being a few years older than his fourteen years, before sending him on his way to see the world.
Years later they meet up again as Cash, now a US Marshal, is sent to protect her as she runs for mayor of a town in lieu of her murdered husband. Laramie meets up with her again as a couple of criminals are about to rape her, and the rest of the story is about him, with the help of his colleague, Miles, protecting her and her son from further attempts on their lives by the town’s corrupt mayor.
There’s violence here to make your bones shake, with pieces of skull flying about, and eyes shot out, along with a rape scene that surprises. So you’d think the book would have the same amount of grit as the shorts featured in Beat to a Pulp. Instead, it feels more like a Saturday afternoon, 50s version of the old west, despite its violence. It’s dialogue is a little stilted, and quite a bit of the action doesn’t convince. The characters feel under-developed, including its protagonist, and the ending has a character turn round his enmity almost in the time it takes to make a cup of tea.
It’s not a horrible novel by any means, it just felt rushed, and told way too straight, with little to say about gender politics in the old west.