Monday, August 27, 2007

Saddlebums Review: Cavalry Man: Doom Weapon

Ed Gorman is a writer who should have a larger audience than he does. He is an author who has the ability to create characters that are not only believable, but also draw both the reader’s attention and sympathy. He probes the darkness without allowing his fiction to be devoured by it. His stories have a working-class voice and are laced with anger, disappointment, irony, and humor; and his latest novel Cavalry Man: Doom Weapon is no exception.

Doom Weapon is the third novel to feature Noah Ford. He is a recovering alcoholic Federal man who is as philosophical as a lawman can get—he sees pain and anguish, lonesomeness and sorrow, hatred and fear, where others see nothing more than criminals, thieves, and murderers. He is the Travis McGee of the old West—except he doesn’t have much luck with what McGee called the “wounded birds”—and when he’s on your trail there isn’t much you can do except bide your time and hope he doesn’t get a whiff.

In Cavalry Man: Doom Weapon Noah Ford is dispatched to find a missing agent—Arnold Grieves. Grieves has been missing for a few weeks and everyone back East is getting nervous. He has a pregnant wife and more importantly—as far as his boss is concerned—an open case that needs to be closed. When Noah hits Junction City, the last place Grieves was known to be, he doesn’t find much except a bunch of stories about Grieves hitting the bottle and bedding the local female population. It doesn’t help matters that people are dying violently all over town, and Noah is right at the center of it.

Doom Weapon is a terrific novel. It is one-part western and one-part mystery. It has the feel of a hardboiled detective novel, but it is western to the core. Noah Ford is a likable protagonist who—when not being drugged or beaten-up—can compete with the best of them. He is tough enough to take on the bad guys, but also smart enough to know what he is doing, and why. Most of the time he doesn’t like what he is forced to do either.

If you enjoy a good western, a mystery, or just want a well-told and entertaining story, Cavalry Man: Doom Weapon is your ticket. Unfortunately the last page comes all too quickly, and if this is—as reported—the last Cavalry Man novel we’ll see from Mr. Gorman, you may want to slow down and savor it.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great review. I've enjoyed Ed's work in the past and this sounds like one I'll need to pick up.

Anonymous said...

This book sounds really fun, part mystery and part western. What a great way to keep the genre interesting. I'm excited to read it. Thanks for the review.

KB

Gonzalo B. said...

It's interesting -albeit just a coincidence- that this blog's first two reviews discuss novels that mix elements from the Western and the mystery. Although this is far from a new trend, it says a lot about the vast range of stories that can be described as Westerns as well as the infinite potential of the genre.

I'm sure many readers have already seen this excellent article by Bill Pronzini on Western mysteries, but for those who have not, here's a treat:

http://www.januarymagazine.com/features/westernmyst.html

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