Dave is a veteran L'Amour fan. He has collected all the titles and read every one. These are his go-to books when he wants a guaranteed satisfying read. Good always defeats evil, the hero always gets the girl, and he does it all with no graphic language, sex or violence (not to say there is no violence at all - it's the "graphic" part that's missing.) Naturally, when I came to the "Western" category on my library bingo card, I asked Dave to name his favorite L'Amour book. He chose Flint as tying for the Number One spot. I have heard Dave quote the opening passage many times, and it is the perfect example of Mr. L'Amour's writing style:
Not what I expected from a paperback western. I read tons of paperback romances in my younger years, and the writing level was not always up to snuff. I guess I thought this would be the cowboy equivalent. But no!
It is given to few people in this world to disappear twice but, as he had succeeded once,the man known as James T. Kettleman was about to make his second attempt. If he did not succeed this time he would never know, for he would be dead.
The story was layered - Flint's illness and desire to disappear, the brewing range war, Flint's childhood, his relationship with Nancy Kerrigan, his past in New York which has followed him to New Mexico. The book could easily be twice as long, adding detail to some of the plotlines, without the action lagging and would rival most modern-day thrillers. The only negative was that the fight scenes were a little detailed for my taste, but Dave thought they were spot on, so I guess that's just a matter of opinion. Could be that I don't know my left hook from my jab, so that scene was wasted on me.
Mr. L'Amour paints vivid pictures of the New Mexico malpais - now El Malpais National Monument - where most of the action takes place. As many times as we've been to Albuquerque, I'm amazed that I didn't even know this amazing landscape existed only 70 miles to the west. According to the National Park Service web-site, molten rock created this eerie world of lava tube caves, cinder cones, pressure ridges, and bridges. El Malpais now tops our list of places to go and things to see. (Photos courtesy of the National Park Service)