A Tale Out of Luck: A Novel
by Willie Nelson, with Mike Blakely
Publication:Â September 3, 2008Â
By SI DUNN
Almost anything that can happen in a Western novel does happen in this engaging action-thriller that pairs the multitalented Willie Nelson with another Texas author, singer and songwriter, Mike Blakely.Okay, there’s no big cattle drive, so, alas, no stampede. But this oddly titled book has plenty of other plot twists, as well as some slick marketing tie-ins. For example, Willie Nelson just happens to own a Western movie-set town called “Luck, Texas,” near Austin. And Mr. Blakely of Marble Falls previously has announced on his Web site that he has co-written a Western novel “designed to adapt to the big screen, with Willie himself playing the lead role.”A Tale Out of Luck does indeed move along like a novel grafted onto the bones of a screenplay. Still, it delivers a good day’s read, both for diehard Western fans and those who haven’t opened a shoot-’em-up in a while.Set a few years after the Civil War, the story revolves around a retired Texas Ranger, Capt. Hank Tomlinson, who has founded a little town called “Luck.” (“Wherever you go, you’re either in Luck or out of Luck, son,” he likes to say.) Tomlinson is good with guns, horses, tracking and (surprise!) music.
But he doesn’t get to spend much time drinking and entertaining in Luck after his prized Kentucky thoroughbred goes missing, and so do his two sons, Jay Blue and Skeeter. They were supposed to be guarding the thoroughbred, but now, fearing the old Ranger’s wrath, they have fled and are trying to recover the expensive race horse.
There’s more, of course. A shadowy, dangerous opponent from his Ranger days once again wants to kill Capt. Tomlinson. An inept Army officer has attacked and stirred up the local Comanches. And the Reconstruction Republicans ruling Austin have disbanded the Texas Rangers, set up a new state police force and sent a policeman on horseback to arrest Capt. Tomlinson on suspicion of murder.
Hey, but there’s still a little time for some pickin’ and grinnin’, folks, before and after the climactic battle scenes.
Â A Tale Out of Luck is full-gallop entertainment, and it should be a reasonably lucky book for the two authors.
Si Dunn reviews books about Texas and the Southwest.