Meyers (Another’s Fool, 2017, etc.) offers a Western about a 12-year-old who assists his uncles in the capture of an infamous thief.
In 1922, young Bing is the nephew of a sheriff and his deputy in Wilbarger County, Texas. As such, he doesn’t spend his days in school. Instead, his Uncle Jim and Uncle Rube let him tag along on important missions, including collecting prisoners off the local train and locking them up in town. One day, Frank Holloway—the notorious “Oklahoma Yeggman” (the latter term a slang word for “safe-cracker”)—comes to town in chains. He was recently caught for pickpocketing in Chicago, and many people consider him to be a shadow of his former glory. But Uncle Jim believes that the yeggman is as mischievous as ever, and he encourages Bing to treat him as a highly skilled criminal. After Holloway pleads not guilty and gets released until his next court hearing, he ends up robbing the local bank, and Bing joins Jim and Rube as they try to beat him to the Mexican border. The yeggman’s crimes bring to mind those in The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975) and The Sting (1973). As Bing tracks the convict, he observes how the Wild West is disappearing, only to make way for new crimes and punishments. In this way, Meyers effectively shows how the era of the Old West met the Victorian Age. In general, however, the book would have been clearer if it had simply used more pronouns; the author’s style of dialogue often lacks them, resulting in half-formed thoughts and cryptic details: “Going home tomorrow. Won’t stay here, you can bet on that!” Also, the book repeatedly and uncomfortably suggests that older adults find the 12-year-old protagonist to be sexually attractive. For instance, one of Uncle Jim’s friends looks at Bing and comments, “How lips—so ruby red!—impress one as wishing to be pressed with one’s own.”
A half-baked and sometimes-disturbing tale.