Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Jason Bourne's Great-great-great-grandfather

Title: The Man Called Noon
Author: Louis L'Amour
Bookmark: business card from my last job

"You over there! You with the blue coat! Don't I know you from somewhere?"
"You might." Ruble Noon spoke easily. "I've been there."
The man was just drunk enough not to understand. "You been where?" he demanded.
"There," Ruble Noon said gently.
"I don't think you know me," Ruble Noon said. He finished his coffee and got to his feet. "If you did you'd keep your mouth shut."

If romance novels are brain candy (something you enjoy, even though you know it's bad for you, and you spend a lot of your time while reading laughing at the book itself) for women, Louis L'Amour is brain candy for men. I enjoyed it; after a long break, I might even read more L'Amour should a book find its way to me--but I don't know that I'll bother seeking it out on my own.

A nameless man comes to in an alleyway with nothing in his head but a flesh wound and a vague sense that he's in danger. He quickly comes to the conclusion that he had fallen from the window above (or been shot from there), and that the best course of action in the immediate future is a quick and distant exit. Just before he jumps a train out of town, he hears the name of the man who shot him. That, and the letters he finds in the jacket he's wearing (it later turns out to be someone else's jacket) are his only leads to figuring out who he is, who is hunting him, and why.

Sound familiar?

I'll give L'Amour credit: he did it first (Noon was published in 1970), but Ludlum did it better. There are inconsistencies in the plot, and there are a couple dozen characters who float in and out then make surprise appearances later on, but get hardly more than a name for development, so I usually had no idea that I had seen a character before unless their name sounded vaguely familiar, a problem compounded by the frequent dropping of names of characters who weren't even in the book. Plus, I kept thinking of Ruble as "Roland," but I can't blame L'Amour for that one. (The first book in the Dark Tower series was not published until 1982, but King started it in 1970)

Does he figure out who he is? Is he in repeated gun battles, and nearly killed at least twice? Does he feel conflicted about his past life of killin'? Does he ultimately save the day? Of course he does. He's the good guy, and it's a western.

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posted by reyn at 9:51 AM


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