Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Adventurous Deeds of Deadwood Jones



by Helen Hemphill
Front Street, 2008. 228 pgs. Juvenile Fiction.

I grew up on Westerns, but all the action these days seems to be in Outer Space (or with what comes from there). But then along comes Deadwood Jones. Inspired by the true narrative of Nat Love (upon whom the dime-novel character of Deadwood Dick was based), the story of Deadwood Jones has a little bit of everything--faithful horses, riled-up Indians, stampeding cattle, and quick and violent death on the road North. Prometheus Jones must hightail it to the territories when he is accused of stealing a horse he won in a raffle. He an his young cousin Omer hire on with a cattle drive going north from Texas to the Dakota Territory. Prometheus is also hoping to track down his father who was sold into Texas years before. Through good times and bad, great sorrows and personal triumphs, Prometheus makes his way north where he becomes "Deadwood" Jones a cowboy through and through. Prometheus is a fine young man with the do-good spirit, not afraid to do the right thing even in the face of great danger. This is a terrific, action-filled, thought-provoking, atmospheric read. Can you tell at all that I really liked it? Dang good. (P.S.: of local interest, there is an odd and unaccountable reference to ZCMI in the text--can't think that is historically accurate but maybe it is.)

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