I was wary of this one going in. When I finished reading Lonesome Dove a few years back, and was floored by it, I picked up the other books in the series. I started not with this immediate sequel, but with Dead Man’s Walk and Comanche Moon, both of which I found rather disappointing. There’s something almost oafish and parodic about those books. So this one lingered in my consciousness for a long time.
I have to say, this is a very very good book, and more so, a really satisfying sequel. We find ourselves some fifteen years after the end of Lonesome Dove, and Call is hired by a railroad magnate to track down a young Mexican bandit and killer who is wreaking havoc on the payroll lines of the military. He’s accompanied by a liaison of the magnate, a Yankee who has no business going after a bandit. Call tries to take Pea Eye, now married to Lorena, but he hesitates, so he hires a deputy sheriff to go with them. It goes from there.
This novel becomes expansive from this initial narrowness and we bring together a cast of different characters both real and imagined into this narrative. The writing is terse and tense, and there’s the same kind of anti-romantic quality of writing that the first book has, with none of the false nostalgia of the following two. You understand that the West was indeed a violent place, but that violence had as much to do with chance and luck and stupidity as any kind of adventure.