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Title: Riders of the Silences
Author: Max Brand
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Pierre Le Rouge, an orphan, was brought up by Jesuit priests. Not only was his mind trained but his body as well. His instructor meant for him to conquer the Northern Parts of Canada and it would take a tough man to do so. Pierre finds out he isn’t an orphan in a message from his father, saying he’s been shot by McGurk, the legendary gunfighter and the father wants to see Pierre before dying. Pierre is the bastard of this man but quits everything and rides off to see his father. He is given a cross by his Instructor, one that has brought him luck.
Pierre finds his father and ends up wounding McGurk in a card game. McGurk had never been touched before in a gun fight and no man had survived before Pierre. Pierre also killed some other men and went down the road of outlawry. He runs away from the law and in a blizzard finds a young girl trapped beneath a downed tree. A landslide occurs and Pierre thinks the girl is dead. He is rescued by a gang of blood thirsty outlaws and joins their gang.
One of the gang, young Jack, turns out to be Jacqueline, the leaders daughter. She falls in love with Pierre but he’s too dumb to realize it. Pierre becomes the best of the gang, best of fighting, best of planning, best of shooting. During this time McGurk has disappeared. Pierre, now known as Red Pierre, ends up going to a dance with Jacqueline and there meets the girl he thought had died years ago. Jacqueline is jealous and makes the girl think she is living with Pierre.
The gang, made up of seven, begin to disappear one by one and they realize McGurk has returned to exact his vengeance on them all. The girl chases Pierre into the mountains, Jacqueline chases Pierre into the mountains and Pierre is chasing McGurk. Jacqueline realizes Pierre will never love her and finds the one surviving member of the gang, who had always loved her. Pierre and the girl get together after Pierre faces off against McGurk and strips him of all manhood and dignity, by not killing him.
I was ready for a full western novel and I got one! Hurray!!
While this had elements that had me rolling my eyes (the “lucky” cross pendant being the most obvious), I still had a lot of fun reading this. Part of that fun though, was me imagining Red Pierre and McGurk as Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber (see my Currently Reading post to get the images if you missed it). Imagining Bob the Tomato as a Jesuit Priest in Training had me in stitches and Larry as the menacing McGurk just made me slap my hand to my forehead.
You can’t go into this expecting deep world building, complex characterization and intricate plot lines. What you are getting is an action/adventure story in a western setting with bigger than life people and situations. Of course, with what is being put out today, I question whether what is in this book can even be described as bigger than life anymore.
Another thing in this book’s favor is its brevity. At just over 200 pages, I was able to devour it quickly. Sometimes a book needs to be like a bag of chips. Open, eat, done. No 3hours of prep work, no 72 minutes of sticking in the oven at 324degrees, no setting the table and bringing out the cut crystal and good china. Nothing but instant gratification. As long as you don’t live on chips, or their literary equivalent, you’re all set.