The Key-Lock Man: A Novel
I read constantly, but had never read a Louie L'Amour book (or any Western novel) until I was given Keylock Man by my father-in-law. Tore was a gun-runner for the Finnish Underground in WW II, among other amazing things, so when he gave me this book as a gift, I figured I better at least scan it that night before going to sleep.
Big mistake! The book grabbed me from the first sentence, and I could not go to sleep until I had read it all the way through. It was rivetting.
Now, you have to understand that my first college degree was in English, so I have read ALL of the "classics" and most of the almost classics. And, like most of my fellow students, I generally detested them because most were just plain boring. L'Amour books have a better plot, interesting characters, and are just plain written better. They move you right along so you can't put them down.
Keylock Man is my favorite L'Amour book. Keelock is an honorable, honest man who is must rely on his own toughness, wits, cunning, and skills to stay ahead of a posse who is, for the most part, comprised of good men who do not themselves realize that their task is unjust. He does not want to hurt them, he simply wants to be left alone. Although unjustly persecuted, he shows remarkable restraint, and the posse members begin to waiver as they begin to realize that the Keylock Man is not acting like they think he will. In some ways, the interactions of the posse over the time of the chase remind me of the classic movie "12 Good Men," as the facts they discover force them to confront their own preconceptions.
Now, some people, including me until I had read this book, think that Westerns in general are trash novels, or L'Amour books are not good literature because they are enjoyable to read. But that's what the self-appointed critics said of Mozart, Edgar Allen Poe, Herman Melville (remember Moby Dick) when they were alive, and all three died penniless. Now they are seen as some of the greatest masters of their craft.
So the question is, do you want to miss out because you're trying to be as big a snob as some self-appointed expert, or do you want to experience a rivetting, entertaining, enjoyable reading experience?
Just be warned--if you're brave enough to buy this book, you'll soon be buying all of L'Amour's books. But you won't regret it.