Books on Tape

By Richmond, Dick | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), November 2, 1995 | Go to article overview

Books on Tape


Richmond, Dick, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


"DEAD MAN'S WALK" A novel by Larry McMurtry (14 hours, unabridged, Simon & Schuster, $45)

When the author introduced Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "Lonesome Dove," the men were in their prime, legends of the Texas Rangers en route to an unforgettable exploit as civilians. In "Streets of Laredo," he followed them in the twilight of their years.

In this equally unforgettable story, which might have you skipping television to listen, Gus and Call are not yet 20 years old. Although their personalities haven't been tempered by much experience, the disposition of each is pretty well established.

Gus is already flamboyant, considering his limited resources, and Call is serious and steady, like the rock he becomes. As in the other two books, there are several other strong players involved.

In this account, Gus and Call are participants in a failed piratical expedition to wrest Santa Fe, N.M., from Mexico. They survive only to suffer the consequences that result in not making good on such a dangerous scheme.

As the narrator, Will Patton is in top form, achieving distinctive voices and characterizations for each of the personalties. He seems able to bring the acid of fear to the souls of the men who face the challenge of meeting Comanches and Apaches on their own turf. In so doing, he is able to transfer a sense of dread to the imagination.

Instinctively, you know the rangers are tough men led by ruthless individuals, and yet, during this period in the middle of the 19th century, not one is a match for the pitiless warriors of the plains. The rangers know it, and the Indians know it, too.

Since few of the Gus and Call's antagonists get killed, one has to assume that the men are being seasoned for the next adventure. If that is the case, then all we can add is giddyup, McMurtry. …

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