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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard-boiled Western,
This review is from: Valdez Is Coming (Mass Market Paperback)I'm new to the Western genre. I started with a few L'Amours, then a friend said that Leonard had written Westerns. I hadn't read Leonard yet, and knew only of his crime novels, by reputation, and I did see "Get Shorty" and thought it was great.
So I picked this one up first. It's very fine.
He used to be Roberto Valdez, Apache Hunter (but they don't know that). Now he's Bob Valdez, town constable, condescended-to by the Anglo townsmen. They involve him in an injustice. He seeks to put it right. They laugh at him. Then they try to humiliate them. Then they hurt him. But they should have killed him, because now they all have to die.
This is a revenge tale, always a theme that appeals because it reflects our own revenge fantasies, which if we are honest, we will acknowlege persist beyond adolescence! This is up there with other great revenge stories, from the Count of Monte Christo to the Demon Prince novels of the inimitably great Jack Vance, though of course it is not as monumental as those works.
Valdez is Coming has a very powerful and perfect ending. I read the last 2 or 3 pages several times.
Louis L'Amour is a solid 3-star Western writer; this is praise, not denigration. But as time is short, folks need to know there are many finer Western writers out there. Being introduced to Leonard by this book and by Hombre, I won't be going back to L'Amour until I've finished Leonard, and some others.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Leonard,
This is light reading in some respects. Leonard uses violence to further a story, but doesn't indulge in it. Some of the scenarios could be written darkly, but he evades misery in favor of endurance and the relish of justifiable revenge.
If you've enjoyed Leonard's crime writing you'll be both familiar and comfortable with reading his Westerns- and Valdez is Coming is the best of his Western oeuvre. That he wrote this novel early in his career is remarkable given how consistent it is with his overall style.
This is at once cinematic and sparse literary genre writing at its best.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I love Leonard!,
They laughed at Roberto Valdez and then ignored him. But when a dark-skinned man was holed up in a shack with a gun, they sent the part-time town constable to deal with the problem -- and made sure he had no choice but to gun the fugitive down. Trouble was, Valdez killed an innocent man. And when he asked for justice -- and some money for the dead man's woman -- they beat Valdez and tied him to a cross. They were still laughing when Valdez came back. And then they began to die...
One of my first introductions to crime fiction was Elmore Leonard. I spotted a blurb by Stephen King on a late 80's or early 90's book. My reasoning was, if I like King and King likes Leonard, I ought to try him. Whilst over the past 20-plus years, I have come to take a lot of author recommendations of other authors as a bit of a mutual, sycophantic back-slapping that isn't necessarily to be trusted; this time he was on the money. Obviously, the last remark was part tongue-in-cheek, but you can't tell me it doesn't go on.
Anyway after reading one Elmore Leonard, either Unknown Man No. 89 or The Hunted or 52-Pickup, I was hooked on the guy. It's been a one-way love affair that has endured ever since. I've back-tracked on his earlier books, mainly Westerns when he started out writing and stuck with him to the present day with his Raylon character and the spin-off hit TV series, Justified. He's had a few books that haven't rocked me in this period, but he has consistently entertained and remained in my all-time top 10 author list.
Valdez Is Coming was a re-read for me. It's a western originally published around 1970, with a film I think the following year with Burt Lancaster; one which I can't recall ever seeing. This was selected as the May read for Pulp Fiction group members and as it was a while since I read "Dutch" I wasn't too unhappy.
Bob Valdez is a lowly sheriff, employed mainly to stop the town drunks from killing each other when they've had one too many. Valdez is called to a stand-off where a black man and his Indian wife have been holed up in a shack with a gun-toting mob taking pot-shots at them. Tanner the local big-shot has claimed the fugitive is an army deserter who killed a man. Our protagonist, Bob gets suckered into killing him, when his efforts to defuse the situation fail. One unhappy pregnant widow and one unhappy sheriff bury the unfortunate victim as the mob and Tanner ride off into the sunset heading for the nearest tavern without a backwards glance.
Valdez asks the town folk to take up a collection for the widow unsuccessfully; before approaching Tanner to get him to contribute some money. Tanner takes exception to Valdez's request and after being humiliated a few times, Valdez responds by kidnapping the women who is living as Tanner's wife. Un-used to defiance from anyone and desperate to retain face, Tanner starts a man-hunt for Valdez.
Now that the sheriff has stood up to Tanner, the course is set for a collision between an immovable object and an irresistible force. Light v. Dark, Good v. Evil.
I enjoyed this book (again), reading the 200-odd pages during the course of a lazy day. Valdez is a moral, upright man, prepared to stand up for what he believes in, but only after enduring severe provocation. Courageous, spirited, tough, resilient, cunning and intelligent; Bob Valdez is a man to admire.
4 from 5
I couldn't find my copy at home, so borrowed this from my local library.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 'Western' Leonard - prototypical man on a mission,
This review is from: Valdez is Coming (Read a Great Movie) (Paperback)'Valdez is Coming' is one of Elmore Leonard's key 'Western' writings and I would very much recommend it to people who have enjoyed his other novels - it has the same easy style, drawing you in seamlessly; the same intriguing but plausible character development; and good judgement on the use and description of violence.
The book follows Bob Valdez, a hired town constable, but also a man with a slightly different past, namely that of a tracker and hunter of Apaches for the US Army. When an Indian woman's husband gets mistakenly killed he makes it his obligation to provide some compensation for the wrong committed. When this does not produce results two times in a row, his method of bringing it about changes, leading to the more action packed second part of the novel.
In spite of this being quite a short book, Leonard skillfully manages to guide the reader along Valdez' character journey, on top of a fair amount of actual 'action'. The Clavell style King Rat element woven in towards the end elevates the book even further in my opinion.
On balance I would say that if you do not like Leonard, or absolutely cannot imagine yourself reading a 'Western', you may be better served leaving the book alone. If however, you are willing to give something new a try, or are a previous fan of the author, this is an excellent book to go for - certainly a very pleasant way to spend 2-3 hours; and according to the reviews here a better bet than the movie based on it (Valdez Is Coming [DVD] (1971)).
5.0 out of 5 stars western writing at its best,
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Western,
This review is from: Valdez is Coming (Read a Great Movie) (Paperback)Nowadays Elmore Leonard seems to be seen as a writer of crime novels, but good as many of them are, I always associate him with quality westerns, and "Valdez is Coming" is no exception. Certainly a tale of the quest for justice, but above all, a classic revenge western with a powerful ending.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book,
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow start ... but ....,
4.0 out of 5 stars A Damn Good Read,
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece,
Apparently I have to write 18 more words before I can submit this review and escape this page.
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Valdez is Coming (Read a Great Movie) by Elmore Leonard (Paperback - 24 Mar 2005)
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