cover image Streets of Laredo

Streets of Laredo

Larry McMurtry. Simon & Schuster, $24.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-79281-7

Those who have been waiting, through several comparatively disappointing novels, for an appropriate sequel to the memorable and Pulitzer-winning Lonesome Dove can take heart. Streets of Laredo continues that epic of the waning years of the Texas Rangers with all the narrative drive and elegiac passion of its forerunner. Captain Woodrow Call, Gus Macrae's old partner from Lonesome Dove , is long in the tooth but still a legendary hunter of outlaws when he is called upon by the head of one of the railroads now crisscrossing frontier territory to bring to book a young Mexican train robber and killer, Joey Garza. Accompanied by an inappropriate railroad accountant from Brooklyn, a reluctant Texas deputy and gangling, awkward Pea Eye Parker (who is trying to give up the Ranger life and settle down to farming and family with the lovely ex-whore Lorena), Call sets off, roaming the border country in his competent, unassuming fashion. Along the way he manages to slay Mox Mox, a fellow whose specialty is burning his victims alive, but with his arthritic fingers and failing eyes Call is no match for the alert, ice-cold Garza. How Pea Eye eventually gets his man, and how Call, terribly injured, slips into the shadows is the stuff of this sprawling but minutely detailed yarn. As before, McMurtry's empathic way with strong women--Lorena as well as Garza's gallant but despairing mother Maria--is as beguiling as is his way of bringing to life both dark-dyed villains and courtly heroes. As in some great 19th-century saga, the story has more than its share of improbable coincidences--people meeting fortuitously in thousands of square miles of empty territory, hearing vital news at appropriate and inappropriate moments--but these seem only mild contrivances to shape a story packed with action, terror, humor and pathos. Laredo is a fitting conclusion to a remarkable feat of reconstruction and sheer storytelling genius. 375,000 first printing; Doubleday Book Club main selection; Literary Guild alternate. (Aug.)