A friend long ago had a house out in the woods in Brown County, Indiana, where I spent a few days one summer when I was a young single man. The Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" was on the radio, dinner was served on the back deck after midnight, and in the morning there were copperhead snakes in the backyard. Some memories stay with you forever. Anyway, Hiatus was what she called her place. I'm having one of my own right now.
I'm not the big crime fiction fan in the house. But I'm willing to indulge in a good crime film now and then. And I'm taking a break from the early westerns I've been obsessing over here in this blog to mention two of them.
To a degree, like the Sopranos, it's Greek tragedy. Blood is shed and power shifts from one member of the family to another. The central character, a 17-year-old boy, comes of age in a world where there is nowhere for him to go for safety - except into the sheltering (and perilous) arms of the family. A friendly cop, played nicely by Guy Pearce, cannot save him.
It's rare that a movie ends on just the right note - the final moments a surprise as well as utterly inevitable. As the curtain came down on this little family drama, it was like the final smashing chord at the end of "A Day in the Life." The logic of it was totally right.
The central character, Raylan Givens is a deputy US Marshal working in his home territory, Harlan County, Kentucky. Givens, played by Timothy Olyphant, is a lawman straight out of the Old West, a fast draw, with nerves of steel, a wry smile, and the cool manner of a man who belongs in a Stetson, boots and Levi's. Meanwhile, his ex-wife says he's the angriest man she's ever known.
The ensemble of characters who enforce the law along with him are engagingly real. Holding two white supremacists at gunpoint after an attempted ambush, a female African-American deputy says, "Please, do something stupid." I look forward to the rest of the series, which I will parcel out over the coming evenings.
Meanwhile, there's a queue of books lined up that you will find reviews of here in the weeks to come. I'm currently finishing a book called Print the Legend about the development of photography in the West during the 19th century. Fascinating stuff, and I'll be sharing some of what I'm learning here when I finally get through it. It's long, scholarly, and not exactly a page-turner.
Robert Alexander Wason, Friar Tuck (1912)
Ralph Connor, The Sky Pilot (1899)
Frederick Ritchie Bechdolt, The Hard Rock Man (1910)
Francis Lynde, The Taming of Red Butte Western (1910)
Charles Lummis, A Tramp Across the Continent (1892)
Plus a couple more recent:
Richard Wheeler, Yancey's Jackpot
James Reasoner, Texas Wind
So don't touch that dial.
Coming up: Jack Thorp, Along the Rio Grande