You can’t judge a book by its cover, they say, and apparently you can’t gauge its potential interest by its title, either.  I found this novel in the western fiction section of my local public library, and once I looked at the dust cover notes I was led to believe it centered on a section of southern Arizona where my own brother lives, and where I have spent many happy days.  (A certain Mosman librarian is also familiary with this area, I might add....) The thought of a western tale set in the desert I know so well intrigued me, but I was destined for disappointment.  Less than half of this book is set “east of Tucson,” and the balance is a pretty poorly written piece of fiction.  Set in the first person, the hero of this sophomoric tale sets out by ship from Boston to San Francisco where he intends to travel overland back to Massachusetts and write a book about his adventures.  The prose is short on description and long on a narrative style that lacks detail or color.  Once the hero arrives “east of Tucson” the climax of the story is hardly worth the wait.  I should have recognized this book as a vanity press production with little or no editorial  review, but then again, I was bewitched by the title.  At least it was an easy read.

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