Most of their sales efforts are devoted to Indian Vitality Pills, which are sort of an Old West version of Viagra. Men folk want them to cure their "Secret Sorrow," and women want them to cure their men. Should Mr. Crider be hailed as a visionary, foretelling the coming of such drugs? We'll let history decide.
As the story begins, the troupe arrives in a small East Texas town with identity problems of its own. If it has a name, we never learn it. The town sheriff is secretly an outlaw, in league with a pair of slimeball brothers who run a sort of lackadasical protection racket. The guy who thinks he runs the town has no real power, and the only citizen man enough to use a gun is the preacher.
As you've no doubt guessed, this is not your average shoot-em-up. It's a complex story with at least eleven point-of-view characters, and all but two of them (the slimeball brothers who are unrelentingly bad) have their own character arcs. There are themes everywhere you look. Revenge. Redemption. Unrequited love. Unrequited lust. One character discovers he's a coward, then discovers he ain't. One crawls out of bottle and proves himself, then crawls back in. One wants somethiing she can't have until she realizes what she's already got. Some scenes have so much going on that point-of-view shifts from one paragraph to the next. That's a tough thing for a writer to pull off, but Mr. Crider does it and makes you like it.
Bottom line, it's a fast-moving, entertaining and satisfying tale, with happy endings for those who deserve them, and just deserts for those who don't. And while the 1990 hardcover edition ain't easy to come by, a shiny new Kindle version is just a few clicks away. You'll find that HERE.
One cool thing about the hardcover, though, is the back cover photo of Bill and his bookshelf. I took a close-up look at that shelf in yesterday's post, "Secrets of BILL CRIDER's Bookshelf," and found a few surprises. I invite you to check that out HERE.