Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Coyote's Trail by Edward M. Erdelac review

This book is a good old-time western, with cowboys and Indians, Mexicans and white settlers who tend to enforce the laws they created by treating the indigenous population and the poor like subhumans, who have no power and no rights whatsoever.

If there is a driving force in this story I'd say that is hatred. As it is well known, violence breeds violence, so when on two separate occasions the white man's soldiers, or rather mercenaries, commit unspeakable crimes, some of the survivors decide to pay them back with the same coin. But how can the weak beat the strong? And how can the poor beat the rich?

The author talks extensively about the evils of the past, which are not so different from those of today, just by narrating this tale, without even trying to sound didactic. In these pages we meet rich bootleggers and helpless drunks; heartless soldiers and greedy townspeople; whores, desperate souls, and family men who care more about what the others will say than their own flesh and blood.

Na-e-te-nay is an Indian and America a Mexican, and they are the victims of the crimes that I've mentioned above. They live in a land with laws that don't protect them, so how can they get justice? Sooner rather than later they realize that the only way to manage that is by helping each other. As their journey starts, rivers of blood begin to flow. Will they survive this ordeal or not? And if they succeed in their mission, will that give them the peace of mind that they crave?

The reader can feel nothing but sympathy for these two unfortunate people. They may look and sound unlikable quite often, but at a time and at a place like the one they are in, they do seem to stand out as a beacon of light and hope, for those who don't have the power to speak and act for themselves.

I have to admit that when I started reading this book I wasn't so sure that I was going to like it, but in the end it won me over. The background is rich, though bleak, the characters are well crafted, and the action at times is quite breathtaking. Coming to like a book that at the beginning doesn't really excite you is something extraordinary, and I have to give the author his dues for a job well done.

Published in the latest edition of Crime Factory Magazine

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