Wednesday, 30 July 2008

The Key-Lock Man

as by Louis L’Amour

The Key-Lock Man, and his wife, are being hunted by a posse from town, and a man who lost his woman to Key-Lock. The Key-Lock Man is himself hunting for a golden stallion and it’s herd. Throw into all this some long missing gold wagons which become the focus of the hunt, rather than the man for some, and you have the ingredients for a fast moving and exciting western, or do you?

At first I found this book to be slow and the various characters just a bunch of people to which I didn’t relate, or feel for, and really didn’t give a damn about any of their fates. L’Amour at times seemed to be giving geography lessons. But the book did pick up and I began to feel for the characters as the pace of the story gathered speed as all the groups began to converge for the final showdown.

And then the Key-Lock Man became a super-hero, one bullet to the leg and another through his chest and, after a few moments of struggle, seemed able to shrug off these near fatal wounds to battle on. Everything coming to a quick end in just a few pages leaving me feeling cheated of a great finale.

Also a number of storylines seemed to be left hanging, why so much attention brought to one of the wild horses which carried a scar? Never did find out.

So, for me, quite an unsatisfactory book that does little to explain the heaps of praise laid upon Louis L’Amour.


Chris said...

Haven't read this one yet. I definitely sympathize with the "geography lesson" insight. That was very insightful. It's interesting you brought up the "invincibility" factor of Key-Lock. I'm currently reading L'Amour's Buckskin Run, and in the introduction, he talks about how one "myth" of the old west is that a .45 caliber gunshot would drop any man cold. Not so, he claims. He says he knew of many men who had been hit by such bullets and kept right on coming. I know he brings this idea up in another short story collection--that with adrenaline, et al, you can "take" more than might seem possible. I have no idea if this is true or not, but L'Amour seemed to think it was.

As usual, thanks for the review!

Anonymous said...

Trouble is that this is an extended version of the short story Dutchman's Flat from the anthology of the same name.
Louis L'Amour's excuse is that he became involved with the character.