Luke Reviews has just started to diversify into the western genre (starting with John Ermine of the Yellowstone), and now continuing with Alan LeMay’s The Searchers, basis for the famous John Wayne movie of the same name. While the movie seemed to garner more fame, the book back in print, and I decided to give it a look.
The Edwards family lives in Texas, on land that the Comanches claim as well. After a particularly bloody dispute, the Edwards family lies dead, minus two girls, Lucy and Deborah. Mr. Edwards brother, Amos Edwards, along with Mr. Edwards’ foster son Martin Pauley, were out searching for lost livestock, and missed the slaughter, and return to find the remains left behind. Both determine to set out and find their missing kin, in what becomes an epic quest across Texas, Mexico, then back into the rest of the western United States. Following clue after clue, Amos and Mart become citizens of the plains, and lose any sense of home, or stability, or love.
This book seemed slow to me at first, but after the first twenty pages, I couldn’t put it down. I was up all night finishing it. This brilliant novel portrays two men more human than almost any other characters out there, and the sheer morose melancholy that suffuses this piece is incredible. Both Amos and Mart continue to grow and change as they search for the young ladies, and their heartbreak is one that the reader cannot help but share.
Far more than just a western, The Searchers is a tale of two very human men, who have sacrificed everything for the search. Once they conclude their quest, you realize that the search was the pivotal bit the whole time, not whether they find what they are looking for. This novel wasn’t about finding Lucy and Deborah, but about how two men, in a west that is falling apart around them, live through heartache and loss to find two little girls.
Alan LeMay has created an incredible novel that flows with prose that is a beauty to read, and worth every second.