Thursday, May 25, 2006

Valdez Is Coming, by Elmore Leonard

(pb; 1970)

From the back cover:

“They laughed at Roberto Valdez and then ignored him. But when a dark-skinned man was holed up in a shack with a gun, they sent the part-time constable to deal with the problem – and made sure he had no choice but to gun the fugitive down. Trouble was, Valdez killed an innocent man. And when he asked for justice – and some money for the dead man’s woman – they beat Valdez and tied him to a cross. They were still laughing when Valdez came back. And then they began to die...”


Straightforward Western from Leonard, whose mix of action and dialogue reads in a choppy fashion; this is uncharacteristic of Leonard’s work, whose writing generally has a natural “flow.” That’s not to say that Valdez is mortally flawed – that choppiness actually works, when one considers that the story deals largely with Mexicans whose primary language is Spanish, not English.

Good book, this, possessing less brutality than one would expect (given the back cover blurb). This is not one of Leonard’s best works.


Valdez Is Coming was released stateside as a film on April 9, 1971.

Burt Lancaster played Valdez. Susan Clark played Gay Erin. Jon Cypher played Frank Tanner. Richard Jordan played R.L. Davis. Hector Elizondo had a bit part as a “Mexican rider.”

Edwin Sherin directed, from a script by Roland Kibbee and David Rayfiel.

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