Tim Bryant Launches A Unique Western Series With A World Of Hurt
If ever the expression "Don't judge a book by its cover' applied, It is to Tim Bryant's A World Of Hurt. The cover is of a hard case in a cowboy hat, pointing a rifle out of a window at the reader, conjuring up a paperback tale about the law of the gun. If you crack it open though, you'll find Bryant working on a richer and more complex level, than your average shoot-em'-up as he delivers this entertaining yarn.
First, he gives us a unique protagonist in Wilkie John Liquorish. To call him a rogue may be an understatement. He posses a great deal of humor and charm, yet is out for himself. We meet him coming off a failed cattle drive and shoot a general store owner for some food along with a patron, who turns out to be the sheriff.
Then we then get a plot, or plots, far from a typical western. It turns out that the sheriff and store owner were the town kingpins who nobody liked, so the town is not out to pin the murders on him. However Gentleman Jack Delany, a well dressed black bounty hunter from New Orleans finds him. He's wanted in Fort Worth for selling diseased cattle. The novel then becomes two stories as Liquorish tells his tale of how we got to where he was at the beginning of the book. It involves one of the least romantic cattle drives, Indians, and a beautiful girl he falls in love with as he pleads for his innocence, first to Gentleman Jack, then to a court ready to hang.
Told from Liquorish's point of view, Bryant's voice meld perfectly with his protagonists. The novel becomes a meditation on story telling. we wonder how much truth is in either tale since one he is telling to save his skin. History, legends, and lies co-exist and fuse to a point where they can't be distinguished from the other, especially in a country that uses its history for legend.
I'm happy to know there will be another Wilkie John Liquorish novel coming out this summer, Dead And Buried. He is less a western hero than lead in a Texas historical regional novel, like Bud Shrake's Blessed McGill or Larry McMurtry's esoteric take on the period. In many ways Liquorish could be a western cousin to George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman. It's heartening that Pinnacle sees a future in him, questionable cover or not.
You can get your copy of A World Of Hurt here.