In Barry’s debut novel, a billionaire playboy trades a luxurious but ultimately meaningless life for one filled with adventure when a scandal tarnishes his reputation.
In 1931, Jamison Jackson Logan III is the president of a prestigious New York City law firm, Logan, Marshall & Partners; he has $1 billion in the bank and has just been named Bachelor of the Year by Indigo-Rouge Magazine. But at a banquet to receive the Firm of the Year Award from Law and Standards magazine, he finds out that his partner embezzled nearly $20 million. In the wake of the scandal, he flees to Paris, but it’s not far enough to escape. While returning to New York on an ocean liner, he decides to fake his death when there’s a minor collision with a fishing trawler. He then begins a Travels with Charley–esque adventure, traveling west in a van with a stray Airedale named Tag. In Tempe, Arizona, engine trouble lands him at a small outfitter store owned by Doc Boone and his daughter, Glory. With nowhere else to be, he decides to stick around and enjoy the scenery—and perhaps woo Doc’s enchanting daughter. Then a skull is found in the desert with a bullet-sized hole in it. Logan embraces his new identity as “Jack McCall” and helps track down the bandits responsible. Although Logan begins his hero’s journey as a Jay Gatsby–like playboy, Barry quickly transforms him into a Steinbeck-ian wanderer. This is, at its heart, an original Western, sunbaked and full of rattlesnakes, and the author truly does the vanishing genre justice. That said, the overall narrative is weakened by some frankly odd choices, including the inclusion of unnecessary clip art; Tag’s inner monologue, appearing only in one passage, wondering, “What is the purpose of my life?”; and intermittent dialogue indicators that are reminiscent of a play script: “Doc: ‘Excuse my sassy daughter fer her frankness, Son. Glory, that was rude and uncalled for.’ ” A stronger edit might have corrected such formatting irregularities and allowed readers to focus more on the solid storytelling and complex characters.
Fans of Westerns will enjoy this unusual, if flawed, contribution to the genre.