The plot of STREETS OF LAREDO seems simple enough. Captain Woodrow Call, bounty hunter extraordinaire, is hired by Colonel Terry, the president of a railroad, to capture train robber and serial killer, Joey Garza. But there are enough twists and turns in Larry McMurtry's novel to turn a simple situation into a complex, risky adventure where both laws and human endurance are stretched to the limit, and often broken.
From the start, Call's quest is filled with obstacles. His colleague, Pea Eye Parker, refuses to join him on the hunt for the first time in years. Like Call, Pea Eye, is getting old and isn't sure he's up to another hunt, especially one that will take him far away from his wife and five children. Call is also accompanied by Colonel Terry's New York accountant, Ned Bookshire, a man who knows he's out of his depth in the rugged west, but who must accompany Call to keep track of expenses for the Colonel, or else lose his job. From there, things get worse, especially when more than one serial killer arrives in the area to cause trouble.
I've never read a Larry McMurtry novel before, and although I'm told STREETS OF LAREDO is a sequel to LONESOME DOVE, this novel stands well on its own, despite occasional references to the past. Especially interesting was McMurtry's use of back story to provide intriguing and useful details about main characters and a few secondary characters. I have to admit that some back stories were too long, though. Also, while point of view changed often and smoothly, nearly every character used the word "foolish" to describe their past mistakes. By the time Joe Garza reflects on his "foolish" mistakes, I'm wishing McMurtry had kept a thesaurus nearby while writing. Still, McMurtry's talent for detail, narrative description, and riveting storytelling made this novel a great read.