“Really to understand, you must see Conant as he existed in the world at that time. He was not an immoral man by the standards of the New Mexico Territory. Nor was he cruel in the sense of knowing cruelty.”
Rock solid author Frank O’Rourke delivers this brief 1959 novel that plays as a sort of Desperate Hours in New Mexico. Escaped convict Conant must hole up with a family that already has its own tensions and burdens. Over the course of a week we watch the dynamics tug this way and that.
I am an O’Rourke fan and find his novel The Last Chance one of my finest western reads of last year, but I found this one a bit lacking. There are spots of the usual O’Rourke strengths, but there are also long passages where not much of anything happens. We simply wait along with the family held hostage.