I have long had a bias about reading books written before the 1960’s. To me they always seemed overly verbose and cloyingly sentimental. A few authors like A.B. Guthrie, John Myers Myers, and now DeRosso are now breaking me of that bias.
I picked up .44 in a used bookstore based on a vague memory of a good Amazon review and a quote on the cover calling Delgado a “Poet of the Western Shadowlands”. That quote alone sold me. When I opened up the book, though, I almost groaned when I saw that it was written in the 1950’s. Ugh. Really? How good could this thing be?
It was fantastic. .44 is a dark, psychological novel about a gunslinger’s search for redemption. The novel opens with Harland, our anti-hero, tracking down and engaging in a duel with a man on a lonely trail. Pretty typical stuff. When Harland is beaten to the draw, only to have his opponent smile at him and wait to be shot, the heart of the novel begins. Harland goes about trying to uncover who wanted this man, both his prey and savior, assassinated. Plots, double-dealings, lies and conspiracies swirl around Harland, taking us to a haunting surprise ending.
From a bland start, .44 pulls itself out of the typical genre novel into something fine. Rockstar Games take note: this is what Red Dead Redemption should have been like.