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The Long Night of Winchell Dearby Robert James Waller
Synopses & Reviews
The steady tick of an aged Regulator wall clock and the squeak of an overhead fan turning slowly are soft but insistent, counting down the night, while the high desert thrums like a half-remembered Victrola song. The sounds are below the consciousness of Winchell Dear, an old-time gambler, a Texas poker player on the southern circuit, as he waits for something . . . something vague that his life of chance tells him is evil and moving his way. He has gassed and oiled the Cadillac and adjusts the pistol in his right boot, then plays one of the six fiddle tunes he knows, thinking back to his good days with Lucinda Miller. Alone, he waits in his remote ranch house, while, just outside, an acquaintance named Luther hunts, unblinking and of nervous temperament and moving through yellow primrose bending in the night wind.
In Diablo Canyon, a distant part of Winchell Dear’s ranch, Peter Long Grass squats by a campfire, contemplating the profile he saw moving along the ridge of Guapa Mountain an hour ago, thinking about the gambler’s housekeeper, Sonia Dominguez, about the small, quiet world he has fashioned far from civilization and what undefined presence might now be threatening it. He gathers his tools and begins to run across the desert floor.
And boring toward all of them is a cream-colored Lincoln Continental with two men aboard. Traveling from Los Angeles on a mission they’ve been given, they are professionals, cool and implacable at the start, but becoming steadily more confused by the strange landscape they are passing through. Forty minutes from their task, they ready themselves, while a kitchen wall clock ticks its way through the long night of Winchell Dear.
The Long Night of Winchell Dear finds master storyteller Robert James Waller at his best as he takes us through the wind and dust of the high desert mountains, into the shadowy world of high-stakes poker fought in the back rooms of Amarillo and Little Rock, and headlong toward the book’s stunning finale of chaotic terror, where an unexpected hero emerges.
"Waller, of The Bridges of Madison County fame, takes readers to the unforgiving terrain of south Texas in his 10th novel. Seventy-seven-year-old Winchell Dear has made a good life for himself as an honest poker player, including acquiring his 45,000-acre ranch (named 'Two Pair' in honor of the hand he bluffed to win the land). So when his gambler's sixth sense tells him trouble is in the air, Winchell tucks a gun into his boot and waits out whatever's on the way. Meanwhile, a Mexican drug mule hurries to meet his connection, Sonia Dominguez, who also works as Winchell's housekeeper; a diamondback snake that proves pivotal to the plot slithers through the scrub grass; Peter Long Grass, a Native American squatting on the ranch, watches everyone from the shadows; and a pair of hit men in a cream-colored Lincoln Continental approach Two Pair. Connections between the characters — some more believable than others — are revealed as the story builds toward a violent climax. Though the prose tends toward the awkward ('Under kitchen lights reflecting off walls of dark wood and partially absorbed and mellowed almost to amber by that effect...'), Waller's fans will enjoy his take on the Old West meeting the New." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] rugged Texas tale well told." Library Journal
"Waller's nostalgic, low-strumming latest novel...is a wispy distillation of several hard-bitten voices scratching out a living in the Texas desert." Kirkus Reviews
"Waller has dealt himself a hand of stereotypes, but he plays a sure and mesmerizing game, and reader takes all." Booklist
The beloved storyteller and author of the international bestseller The Bridges of Madison County returns with a classic tale of greed, corruption, and redemption in the American West.
About the Author
Waller is a writer, photographer, and musician.
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