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Thawed Out & Fed Up    by Ray Brown Amazon.com order for
Thawed Out & Fed Up
by Ray Brown
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2011 (2011)
Softcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

This is a difficult novel to classify. Is it a western, a fantasy, or some weird throwback to the old Twilight television series featuring Rod Sterling? Actually, the answer is all of the above!

Some readers will see Sam Bonham as the classic anti-hero. He's an ex-husband, father, and unrepentant badass who is running from the law for a murder he's not sure he committed. And, frankly, I don't think the reader will care one way or the other!

In flight from the law, the Texan stumbles into an isolated community called Blistered Valley, which is a throwback to the time when men were men and their six-shooters did all their talking. This ersatz Wild West town is being held hostage by a lawless group of bullies who fancy themselves as real tough hombres.

The town's small, captive population lives in terror of this band of miscreants and their leader. When Sam, who calls himself Searcher, blunders into their midst, he becomes the town's very reluctant savior. Yes, this does sound a bit like one of Clint Eastwood's old spaghetti westerns but I'm sure that's only a coincidence!

Now, that's not really the bizarre part. While fleeing across the wasteland of East Texas, Sam stumbles upon the wreckage of a private jet. He discovers a strange container that holds the remains of one of the most iconic movie western heroes of all time John Wayne. Apparently the corpse was being transferred from one cryogenic lab to another for storage. By some quirk of nature (that suspension of belief thing so necessary in fantasy lit.), the Duke, or a rather antiquated version of him, emerges from the container. Defrosted and ready to strap on his guns again, Wayne is set for one final adventure.

I think you get the picture. Sam and his new, 72-year-old friend are going to attempt to rescue the folks of Blistered Valley if only this 'Searcher dude' can muster up enough true grit to dig his boots in and take on the gunslingers. As with any true epic western, there will be plenty of gun smoke and flying lead at the end of this tall tale. In fact, there will be so many dead bodies littering Main Street that you'll probably lose count (23 cowboys, 6 townies, and a rattlesnake named Pam are interred on Boot Hill afterwards). The real question, of course, is 'How did Mr. Wayne fare?'

Of course I'm not going to answer that. You'll have to read Thawed Out & Fed Up to figure it out. What about Sam alias Searcher? Same answer!

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