Book: Incident at Twenty-Mile by Trevanian

Pretty good western

Incident at Twenty-Mile
St Martin's Press, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-97023-4
340 pages

Incident at Twenty-Mile is a western novel and, if the foreword and afterword that frame the narrative are to be believed, it's based on some real events. It's also "self-conscious" about being a western. One of the characters reads westerns and aspires to act like the hero in a favorite author's books.

In the book, the town of Twenty-Mile is a former boomtown. It's about halfway up a mountain in Wyoming and exists only to serve the reduced number of miners that remain at a nearly played-out silver mine above it. The year is 1898 and Twenty-Mile has only a few businesses and residents left. Into the town drifts a young man named Matthew Dubchek, though he'd rather you called him the Ringo Kid. He's friendly, ingratiating, and a little bit nuts. He has brought with him an ancient hand-made shotgun that had belonged to his great-grandfather. He decides to live in the least dilapidated of the town's abandoned buildings and that turns out to be the marshal's office. A little later Hamilton Lieder, a psychotic murderer, arrives with two henchmen. He quickly has most of the town terrorized. So you know that there's going to be a showdown of some sort.

I'm not much of a connoisseur of westerns, but I enjoyed Incident at Twenty-Mile pretty well. It drags a bit in the middle, but Tervanian's characters are memorable and his descriptions are vivid.

Posted: Mon - September 4, 2006 at 08:24 PM   Main   Category: