Let Him Go

Larry Watson, Author
Larry Watson. Milkweed, $24 (256p) ISBN 978-1-57131-102-3
Reviewed on: 09/02/2013
Release date: 09/01/2013
A consummate chronicler of the American West, Watson (American Boy) sets his slyly suspenseful, highly engaging new novel in the early 1950s in rural Dalton, N.Dak., where George Blackledge, a retired sheriff, returns home to find his wife Margaret packing to leave—with or without him. She's embarking on an honorable, valiant journey to reclaim her young grandson Jimmy from Lorna, the widow of her tragically deceased son, and Lorna's sketchy new husband, Donnie Weboy. Margaret, who witnessed but didn't immediately act on the couple's cruelty toward Jimmy, is sure that he deserves better than Donnie and Lorna. George joins his determined wife for the long road trip across the Dakota Badlands into Montana, where they become embroiled in the violence of the Weboy clan, beginning with tense negotiations with Donnie's foul-mouthed father, who compares Margaret's "pretty bird" appearance to the "hard bark" of George's. Margaret wants desperately for Lorna to return with them to Dalton with Jimmy in tow, but the ever-intimidating Weboys and their nasty extended family network have other plans for everyone involved and put up a bloody fight—until George turns the tables in the nail-biting denouement. Known for crisp images, resonant backdrops, and sharp characterizations drawn without flashy over-accessorizing, Watson's latest traces the desperate lengths families will go to in order to protect their own. Agent: PJ Mark, Janklow & Nesbit. (Sept.)
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