*No Major Spoilers*
Between July 1875 and November 1883, a single outlaw robbed the stagecoaches of Wells Fargo in California’s Mother Lode country a record of twenty-eight times. Armed with an unloaded shotgun, walking to and from the scenes of the robberies, often for hundreds of miles, and leaving poems behind, the infamous Black Bart was fiercely hunted.
Between robberies, Black Bart was known as Charles E. Bolton, a distinguished, middle-aged man who enjoyed San Francisco’s entertainments in the company of socialites drawn to his quiet, temperate good nature and upper-class tastes.
Meanwhile, James B. Hume, Wells Fargo’s legendary chief of detectives, made Bart’s apprehension a matter of personal as well as professional interest.
I am not a fan of westerns, being raised with a father who loves westerns (good and bad) and trying to read Louis L’Amour; didn’t leave a good impression of the genre with my young self. I did start liking Bonanza when I got older, however, Gunsmoke still makes no sense to me.
This book, however, caught my eye. The imposing stagecoach, the gentleman in the bowler hat holding the stagecoach at gunpoint made me pick up this book from my local library. I thought I’d give westerns another try.
The story was great! The development of characters and their motives were relatable. Being in California both during the Gold Rush and after the rush would drive anyone to rob just to keep food in their bellies.
In the afterward, Mr. Estleman stated that he took a few liberties with the story. The poetry was fiction, but I think it made the story better. I could tell this author did his research with his novel.
Now for the negatives, the vocabulary at times was difficult. I tried to look up the words so I could understand, but it got so tedious that I quickly gave up and just took my best guesses at what the words meant.
This is a good book, for anyone who loves westerns will enjoy this novel. It’s a nice quick read, and I enjoyed reading this novel. I would say unless you have an excellent vocabulary, or don’t mind having a dictionary on hand as you read, you can decide whether this book is good for you or not.
3 thoughts on “REVIEW: The Ballad of Black Bart by Loren D. Estleman”
Followed, because I saw your post on Reddit. I love westerns (or anything in that time period).
Do you have an example of the tedious language?
No, I should’ve wrote down some examples. However, now I’ll know that will be in future reviews if I run into similar difficult vocabularies.
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