5 Stars - Highly Recommended / The Next Best Book
Publisher: Dock Street Press
Released: September 2015
Confession: I've had this book downloaded to my Kindle for quite some time and for reasons that are not completely clear to me, I left it sitting in the good ole TBR pile. After seeing The Hateful Eight a few weeks ago, I suddenly had this overwhelming urge to read a gritty western that wasn't too concerned with the fact that it was a Western and turns out, Robert James Russell's Mesilla was the perfect choice.
In this tight little story about survival in the unfriendly New Mexico desert, we meet up with Everett Root as he hides out in a mine after a recent shoot out. Having taken a bullet to the leg, Everett's in pretty rough shape. His only chance of survival is to outrun his pursuer, and get to Mesilla - a town he believes will offer him sanctuary.
You'll find the usual Western tropes, or what I assume are the usual, since I don't typically read westerns - an unintentionally charming gunslinger; a relentless antagonist; hostile Indians; a mouthy damsel in distress; and a small chunk of silver that will hopefully ease his passage through the desert. But the beauty of the novel lies in Russell's prose, which flows like poetry off the page.
Breathtaking, beautiful, and bloody as hell, Mesilla kept me captivated straight through to the very end. The book is all landscape and language, Russell is one helluva talented writer. The only complaint I have is that I wish it were longer.