Three outlaws arrive in the country town of Big Tree, Calif., on a blazing hot day of a long dry summer, in this well-crafted western by veteran Pronzini ( The Last Days of Horse-Shy Halloran ). A huge shipment of munitions is a-sittin' in Big Tree just a-waitin' to be stole--and they're a-goin' to do it. But the burglary gets bungled, an explosion sets the town on fire and there is only one way out of the parched valley for the townsfolk--by train. That way lies peril, however, for not only is the only locomotive in some disrepair, but the munitions are on board, and the fire is spreading fast--as fast as the train is racing. Pronzini, a pulp aficionado, adds to the race-against-time tension of his homespun stage with sideline subplots: a guilt-ridden love-triangle, an outlaw's hysterical memories of his father's death in a fire, a one-legged man's bitterness and misguided heroism--building to an acceptable, if rather bland, ending. While not attempting to transcend the genre, the author has added to it with his usual professionalism. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1989 Release date: 02/01/1989 Genre: Fiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.