I won a copy of Noose, by Eric Red, through Goodreads.
In the cutthroat world of bounty hunters, Joe Noose is as honest as they come. Which isn’t saying much. Just look at his less-than-honest colleagues. They framed Joe for a murder they committed. They made sure Joe’s face wound up on a wanted poster. Now they’re gonna hunt Joe down and collect the reward money. There’s just one problem: Joe Noose thinks it’s his bounty. It’s his reward. And it’s their funeral . . .
I’ll admit that I don’t read Westerns very often, almost never. So, I’m probably not a great judge of the genre. But in terms of judging a book…this one simply isn’t very good. It’s very linear, in that this happens and this happens and then this happens, with no red herrings, branches, subplots or anything to break up the straight, obvious path of the plot. It’s essentially one long chase/gun battle.
Further, there is no grey in the characters to make them interesting. The bad guys are BAD GUYS (often even referred to as the bad men). They murder, and rape, and abuse their horses, and have poor hygiene to boot. The good guys are GOOD GUYS. They’re honest, and heroic and clean. There are exactly two women in the book. They both have pert titties and lush bottoms…and not much else, certainly not any notable sense. Even Bess, who is supposed to be strong and brave is oblivious to the obvious and reduced to a simpering child in need of rescue by the end.
Then there is the writing. Mechanically it’s fine. But it grated on my nerves. The characters were almost never called by name. They were ‘the cowboy,’ ‘the bounty killers’ (Yes, bounty killers, not bounty hunters. Wouldn’t want us to forget they are THE BAD ONES), ‘the female marshal’ (Yes, female marshal. Not just marshal because wouldn’t want us to forget that she’s female most of all.), ‘the female criminal’ (Yep, she’s female too.), etc. etc. The river is never just the river. It’s the Snake River every time it’s referred to. Never-mind that I’m not likely to have forgotten which river it is or expect it to have changed. The horse is given an oddly anthropomorphized POV. The whole book is repetitive, using the same words to describe things again and again. And Red has a strange attachment to couples in his adjectives. No one is a big man. He’s a big, broad man–two adjectives and a noun, over and over again.