Reviewed by Nik Korpon
Let me give a disclaimer first: This is my first Ken Bruen. He’s one of those who everyone else has read, and I’ve had on the TBR shelf for a while, but other things kept popping up. And after reading his story Colt, I think I’ve done myself a big disservice.
Bruen sets the scene quick: Lucas, a ne’er-do-well holed up somewhere on the edge of the map, is on the run after an unnamed incident in Arizona. Doesn’t matter, though, because he seems to have found trouble even in the one-horse town of Watersprings. And his Colt .45 just jammed.
Colt has the cast of a classic noir—the hardboy trying to outrun himself, the over-compensating lawman, the femme fatale—and shares some common themes, namely doomed characters and bad-but-inevitable decisions. It’d be easy to just transport a crime tale back 100 years, throw in a couple y’alls and howdy partners in and call it a Western, but the story feels authentic. I think it’s the dialogue that especially does it. The characters have their own way of speaking, varied enough to keep them distinct, but dirty enough to relegate them all to the run-down saloon, the town jail.
The only thing that stuck out to me was the use of ‘me’ in place of ‘my.’ Though it could be chalked up as another dialect of the time, it felt like there was a bit of Irish brogue seeping through. It’s a minor complaint that, after being slashed, gutted and dried by Bruen’s lean, badass prose, really ain’t nothing to complain about.