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Black Powder, White Smoke [Hardcover]

Loren D. Estleman
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 7 2002
Two men, black and white.

In New Orleans, the black man, Honey Boutrille, saves a prostitute’s life by killing her attacker.

In San Francisco, the white man, Twice Emmerson, kills a Chinaman because he likes killing.

These two men go on the lam, and their adventures, nip and tuck through scrape after scrape, are the zest of Loren Estleman’s wildest tale of the West. The protagonists are different as black and white—Honey rough but honorable, Emmerson chaotic and violent. They attract not only the dogs of the law but the avid interest of those who would exploit them. A journalist tracks Honey, eager to turn his life story into a cautionary parable that will chill white readers. A showman seeks Emmerson, cynically eager to sign him to a contract for the stage and create a competitor to Buffalo Bill.

Honey and Emmerson rage through an authentic West drawn with a fierce and gleeful truthfulness, leaving trails of bodies, pursued ever more relentlessly, and moving always toward a central and inescapable meeting place, Denver, Colorado.

The meeting has the scope, inevitability, and shattering power of Greek tragedy.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Estleman (White Desert) adds another absorbing saddle yarn to his more than 40 westerns and crime novels. Set in 1885 in an Old West culture of bad whiskey, low morals and high adventure, the story follows four men on a collision course with a destiny they neither expect nor welcome. Ex-slave Honey Boutrille runs a New Orleans bordello called the House of Rest for Weary Boatmen. When he kills a white man for mutilating one of his girls, Honey must flee west to escape the hangman. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, former Civil War bushwhacker Twice Emerson, now a train robber and murderer wanted for the shooting of a Chinese immigrant, decides he will breathe easier and longer if he moves his robbing-and-killing operation to the Rockies. As these two outlaws run from posses, marshals and vigilantes, two other men pursue them with more benign motives. Journalist Ernest Torbert has given up a job creating ads for Chicago meatpackers to track down Honey and write a lurid biography of the fugitive. Casper Box, a wily showman and theatrical agent, wants to sign up Twice for a Wild West show before a lawman's bullet gets to him first. After some bloody and hair-raising adventures, all four men eventually end up in Denver, the Gomorrah of the Rockies, where they pull off a climactic performance. Estleman combines action, suspense and a twist of humor in this satisfying drama full of Western lore.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Estleman has written over 40 books, alternating between historical Westerns and detective stories. This latest Western tells the parallel stories of two fugitives from justice and the two men trying to find them before the authorities do. "Honey" Boutrille is a freed slave who kills a white man to save a working girl in the New Orleans brothel he owns. "Twice" Emerson is a career criminal on the run after a botched train robbery. Most of the time, Honey travels in Texas, while Twice hides out in the West. We know that they will eventually cross paths, but part of this story's charm is how it will happen. Meanwhile, writer Ernest Torbert is looking for Honey so that he can write his life story, while vaudeville impresario Casper Box hopes to make Twice the star of a Wild West show. Each fugitive narrowly escapes capture a number of times, leading to the inevitable climax. Writing in a colloquial style that is still easily understood, Estleman subtly includes interesting historical detail and character background that add depth to the story. His characters are somewhat one-dimensional but still interesting. Recommended for all Western collections and where Estleman's books are popular.
Joel W. Tscherne, Cleveland P.L.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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4.0 out of 5 stars Gunmen On The Run Nov. 28 2002
Format:Hardcover
Honey Boutrille owns the House of Rest for Weary Boatmen, a whorehouse in New Orleans, and plays part-time piano when his regular man is out. His life is changed when Winston Claude Saint-Maarten assaults one of the working girls, cuts up her face, and takes her hostage. Honey waits the man out and kills Saint-Maarten stone-cold dead, leaving himself nothing to do but run for his life because black men can´¿t kill white men without their own lives becoming forfeit even in wild New Orleans in 1881. Emerson Emerson, nicknamed Twice because he was named that way, is an owlhoot who has been bad since the day he was born. At the same time Honey was gunning down Saint-Maarten, Twice has a train robbery go south on him near Sacramento, California, leaving the safecracker dead and him no choice but to go on the lam. In San Francisco, Twice runs afoul of the local Chinese Tong, which promptly puts a price on his head and forced him on the run one more time. Both of these men, one black and one white, live life on the run for the next few months, neither of them having any luck between them as they are pursued by lawmen and journalism in an incredibly-shrinking Old West. At the same time, Ernest Valerian Torbert, a journalist in Chicago, Illinois, is offered the job of tracking down Honey Boutrille for his life story. Argus Fleet, the publisher and owner of Jupiter Press, is convinced that such a story would be a best-seller, and even has the title picked out: THE BLACKSNAKE OF NEW ORLEANS, OR THE DEVIL OF THE DELTA, A TRUE TALE. Longing for adventure, Torbert takes the assignment. Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars A writer that deserves a wider audience Aug. 29 2003
By M. Dog
Format:Hardcover
I don't know why Loren D. Estleman isn't better known. I guess that is the curse of the writer that writes "genre" fiction. Estelman is one of the best writers working today. His characterization is first rate, and his dialogue is second to none. Also, Estleman is an expert on the American West and it really shows in this novel. His sentences are always chisled and perfect. Briefly, this book tells the tale of two gunman that are pursued by the law, and their fates and lives intertwine.
A truely wonderful look at the American West. There is a great deal of action and a kind of hard, flinty humor that this author specializes in.
Even if you do not like "Westerns" give this book a try. If you do like Westerns, you won't need me to confince you. You will already know what a gifted writer Estleman is.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A writer that deserves a wider audience Aug. 29 2003
By M. Dog - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I don't know why Loren D. Estleman isn't better known. I guess that is the curse of the writer that writes "genre" fiction. Estelman is one of the best writers working today. His characterization is first rate, and his dialogue is second to none. Also, Estleman is an expert on the American West and it really shows in this novel. His sentences are always chisled and perfect. Briefly, this book tells the tale of two gunman that are pursued by the law, and their fates and lives intertwine.
A truely wonderful look at the American West. There is a great deal of action and a kind of hard, flinty humor that this author specializes in.
Even if you do not like "Westerns" give this book a try. If you do like Westerns, you won't need me to confince you. You will already know what a gifted writer Estleman is.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gunmen On The Run Nov. 28 2002
By Mel Odom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Honey Boutrille owns the House of Rest for Weary Boatmen, a whorehouse in New Orleans, and plays part-time piano when his regular man is out. His life is changed when Winston Claude Saint-Maarten assaults one of the working girls, cuts up her face, and takes her hostage. Honey waits the man out and kills Saint-Maarten stone-cold dead, leaving himself nothing to do but run for his life because black men can�t kill white men without their own lives becoming forfeit even in wild New Orleans in 1881. Emerson Emerson, nicknamed Twice because he was named that way, is an owlhoot who has been bad since the day he was born. At the same time Honey was gunning down Saint-Maarten, Twice has a train robbery go south on him near Sacramento, California, leaving the safecracker dead and him no choice but to go on the lam. In San Francisco, Twice runs afoul of the local Chinese Tong, which promptly puts a price on his head and forced him on the run one more time. Both of these men, one black and one white, live life on the run for the next few months, neither of them having any luck between them as they are pursued by lawmen and journalism in an incredibly-shrinking Old West. At the same time, Ernest Valerian Torbert, a journalist in Chicago, Illinois, is offered the job of tracking down Honey Boutrille for his life story. Argus Fleet, the publisher and owner of Jupiter Press, is convinced that such a story would be a best-seller, and even has the title picked out: THE BLACKSNAKE OF NEW ORLEANS, OR THE DEVIL OF THE DELTA, A TRUE TALE. Longing for adventure, Torbert takes the assignment. In the meantime�as Honey�s bad luck holds true and he leaves a trail of dead bodies behind him of men who were bad or tried to collect on the bounty on his head, and Twice follows through on a string of robberies and killings that emblazon his name on newspapers throughout the West�vaudeville promoter Casper Box seizes on an idea. Always in search of a new venue, Box hears about Twice Emerson and starts putting together plans to feature the villain as a performer, not hesitating at all when fate puts Honey in his hands as well. But Box�s double-bill of Old West entertainment featuring two notorious criminals and man-killers isn�t going to be easy because the difference between Honey and Twice are lethal.
Loren Estleman is an award-winning Western writer. He�s also won awards for his Amos Walker private eye novels set in Detroit, Michigan. In addition to these two fields, Estleman is also recognized as a worthy writer of historical fiction, as is evidenced by BLACK POWDER, WHITE SMOKE. Other works in the Western field include the Page Murdock series, including CITY OF WIDOWS, THE HIGH ROCKS, and WHITE DESERT. His Western novel, THE MASTER EXECUTIONER, won the 2002 Wrangler Award for Outstanding Western Novel.
BLACK POWDER, WHITE SMOKE is a fast-paced adventure chockfull of historical lore and Old West myth. The characters, while larger than life, ring true, as do the events that each man finds himself in. The dialogue is tight and skilled, moving the plot along and introducing different facets of Honey and Twice in heartbeats. Torbert and Box are also given great detail, and the different voices can actually be heard in the narrative flow. The gunplay is excellent, pulling the reader into the thick of the action, while the inner dialogue of each character comes across fresh and deep. With the different locales made possible by the construction of the novel, as well as the varied subjects covered, Estleman present quite a look at the old West and the men who became legend. Perhaps Honey Boutrille and Twice Emerson never actually existed, but men who lived the kinds of lives the author reveals did. Although many readers may wish Estleman had stayed with his two primary characters more, the scenes with Box and Torbert are fascinating in their own right, offering concise histories of place and time and the two professions the men are locked into.
Some readers may have to be patient as Estleman weaves his multi-layered tale. Honey and Twice share the limelight with Box and Torbert. Many readers may wish that the author had stuck more to the two primary characters in the beginning, but as Torbert and Box grow as characters in their own right, their points of view deepen the story and make the inevitable resolution more compassionate. And, in a sense, either Torbert or Box could have been Honey or Twice had their own paths not proven a little less rocky.
In BLACK POWDER, WHITE SMOKE, Loren Estleman has combined a presentation of violent Old West adventure and historical accuracy. The story of Honey and Twice offers a great read that will compel its audience to keep turning pages late into the night.
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Western by a master craftsman Aug. 24 2007
By F. J. Harvey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book expertly juggles four strands of narrative before gradually bringing them together in a powerful and sombre climax .
One strand deals with the tale of Honey Boutrille,a black man employed as a general factotum in a New Orleans bordello who kills a wealthy white client who beats up and threatens to kill a woman employed in the establishment .Portrayed by the yellow press as a crazed and violent black man with a grudge against the white race he goes on the run.The book follows his progress ,from stoker on a riverboat to an ostler working for a drunken racist who loses no opportunity to revile him and dump all the dirty work on his back.There he falls in love with a young woman who turns out to be the wife of his mentor in the district,a charismatic black preacher.Circumstances force him to kill again and to resume his wanderings .
Meantime his tale has drawn the attention of a Chicago editor who despatches a reporter ,Torbert ,a failed novelist, to track Boudrille down and write a suitably lurid and one-sided report of his life and times .The reporter does indeed trace Boudrille and hears his side of events ,and finds himself increasingly persuaded by what he hears.

Another sub-stratum of the tale revolves around Twice Emerson ,once a member of Bloody Bill Anderson's marauders ,now a train robber and killer ,ana wanted man across the West .

Responsible for bringing them together -in the fourth strand of the book -is Casper ,a theatrical impressario ,who sees a way to make some money by putting Emerson and Boudrille on stage together in a shooting contest

The book feels somewhat episodic in places,the result no doubt of the multi-layered plot compressed into a relatively brief novel but it never loses the interest .The portrait of media and societal racism is never heavy handed but makes its point subtly and deftly and the book has much to say on the contrast between public morality and private vice .Estleman has written of the Western theatre scene previously in The Adventures of Johnny Vermillion and the cheapskate but enduring nature of it is affectionately portrayed here .Less a Western than an historical novel of the frontier this is well worth a day or two of any reader's time
5.0 out of 5 stars Typical Estleman greatness Dec 14 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've been reading Estleman for 30 years. He rarely fails to deliver. This was an absorbing story, where you could easily predict the general plot direction, but not the details and nuances or final outcome. Which is where the author always shines, in my opinion. No matter the setting or genre, his work always feels authentic, his ear for language and dialog feels spot on, and I never fail to become immersed.
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