Was lucky enough to pick up an advanced reader of this at a work conference back in October. Initially I grabbed it because of the title–it implied such defiance, such deliberate danger–and because I’ve been wanting to break into more Western genre books. After I started, I realized it had been blurbed by two of my old college professors, so then I of course had to see it through to the end. Very glad I did.
World, Chase Me Down
By Andrew Hillman
Publisher: Penguin, Jan 2017
Based on the true story of Pat Crowe, a poor butcher who got away with kidnapping his rich ex-boss’s son in Omaha, 1900, this story spans a little more than thirty years. He runs across the world and back while the newspapers try to decide whether he’s a criminal for holding an innocent boy for randsom, or a hero, taking $25,000 in gold from a millionaire businessmen who profits off overpriced meat. It’s an outlaw story and a have vs have-nots story all at once.
The story is told in two parts, and each part in turn tells two separate parts of the story, alternating timelines every other chapter. So essentially, the story is divided into fourths.
Part one tells the story of the kidnapping in real time, intersected by the events that compelled Crowe to comit the crime in the first place.
Part two is a court room drama, detailing what happened when Crowe finally turned himself in, woven in with his adventures during his 5 years on the run.
The effect is somewhat jarring–I found myself favoring certain timelines over others, wishing a chapter (and its conflicts and developments and sometimes really hilarious dialogue) didn’t have to switch to an entirely different time and place. But as all parts of the story are really the reflections of an older man, the mess of memories ultimately makes sense.
Crowe’s voice is slow, careful, almost mournful. There’s a bitterness in these reflections, but not quite regret. Almost like he’s saying that the things he’d done, and the things done to him, were really messed up–but hell, what a ride.
For someone who doesn’t read much in the way of westerns, this was certainly an entertaining read, even if the sometimes hopelessness of this character’s life made for slow reading. Will definitely keep my eye out for the next thing Hilleman writes.