I first came across The Mexican Tree Duck by James Crumley years ago–how, I’m not entirely sure, but it found its way onto my bookshelf and has been there ever since. When I pulled up the Amazon page to link it above, I found out that it is the sequel to another book about C.W. Sughrue and my immediate thought was: “For real? I’ve done it again? Why can I never stumble across the first book in a series?”
But you’re not here to read my thoughts about my funky luck with reading series out of order, you’re just hear to know my thoughts about this particular story. So here we go…
(And here’s a link to my vlog!)
I’ve never really been one for Westerns. This isn’t exactly a Western, but I kind of got that vibe from it. This story follows C.W. Sughrue–a Vietnam vet, former bartender, and tough guy.
There’s kind of a lot going on with Sughrue–the story starts out with him being hired by a set of gun-loving, fish-selling twins to get their fish back from Abnormal Norman, a biker gang leader. Then, Sughrue’s hired by Norman to track down his mother, a woman who’s believed to be kidnapped and the FBI is looking into her disappearance. Along the way, he meets a couple of ladies, more than a couple of crazies, and some old Army pals from the war. There are gun fights, home invasions, and a lot of travelling. For me, as dorky as this sounds, my favorite part was all the time spent in Colorado, it was exciting to (mostly) know where the action was happening, seeing as I’ve lived here my whole life.
But back to the story…since there’s so much going on, I’ll admit that it was at times a little hard to follow. For me, the ending seemed, not quite rushed, but like everything just kind of resolved quickly. Which was a bit of a bummer for me because I grew to really like Sughrue, and after 200 pages of emotional work to get to that point, the last 60 pages just seemed to end almost unceremoniously.
That said, I did enjoy the plot, I thought that the search to find Norman’s mom was engaging–I liked the little subplots woven into it. I think because of all the time spent on this journey, that’s what really lets the reader get to know and grow to like Sughrue so much. He becomes more complex than just muscle and swear words.
Ooh, that might be one reason not to read it–if you really don’t like swearing, be warned. There are a ton of f-bombs.
But along with getting to know more about Sughrue, I think the character development of the rest of the ensemble was really artfully done, even for the characters who only appear briefly.
So overall, I think I would recommend this to someone who likes adventure stories–there are elements of the West, of mystery, of war stories–so there are things that appeal to many readers. I just don’t know if it’s a story I’ll come back to over and over again.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Look out for next week’s posts on Chad Descoteaux’s Working Class Superheroes.