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Westerns - Joe Lansdale - Paradise Sky

Paradise Sky
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Paradise Sky
Joe LansdaleMulholland Books 2015
416 pages

Paradise Sky is the latest wild west adventure penned by Joe R. Lansdale, who uses a liberal amount of literary latitude to successfully blend historical facts with the life and times of an interesting collection of infamous and honourable characters, both fictitious and real.

The story is the first person narrative of Nat Love, who came to be known as Deadwood Dick, the Dark Rider of the Plains, the bigger than life subject of early novels of the wild west.

Nat is determined to tell his story his way, separate fact from fiction, and set the record straight.

Son of a former slave turned landowner; a rarity in those times, Willie, as he was originally named, is on an errand, when a chance glance followed by accusations of a crime he didn't commit, change his life forever.

Willie is on the run from Sam Ruggert, a mean so-and-so who is hell-bent on revenge.

He is taken in by a kind farmer who treats him like a son and provides him with book learnin' and education in the ways of the world, including farming, riding, and guns.  He resumes his flight, adopting the name of Nat Love, in honour of his mentor.

Nat's life becomes a series of adventures spanning Texas to Deadwood South Dakota, and back again.

Joe Lansdale works a variety of professions, including cavalryman.  His travels and reputation as an expert marksman lead him to encounters and sometimes friendships with the likes of Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bob Mitchell, and “the hangin' judge” Parker.  He forges deep experiences about life, love, and  loyalty.

Paradise Sky is a good novel of the rough, rugged, and sometimes bloody west, during the times when prejudice ran high, and a free black man was often an unwelcome novelty.

Lansdale is an excellent storyteller, with a simple, captivating style and an often humorous way with words which well illustrates the entertaining old west vernacular..  The reader can see and feel everything that happens.  One segment seems borrowed from True Grit, while another loosely reminds this reader of Weekend at Bernie's.  

At times, though, the reader is not sure where the plot is headed.  It meanders a bit, but it takes an interesting road to get there.  Just when the action seems to be slowing down, Nat is off on a new and exciting adventure.

The reader gets to know, like, and root for Nat, wanting him to be the hero.  Paradise Sky doesn't disappoint.


J Curran

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