Saturday, January 29, 2022

CROCKETT'S DEVIL: A Rip-Roaring Review by Larry Paschelke

My friend Larry Paschelke, whom you know as the patron for my access to the early run of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, has offered his take on this modern-day epic. Thanks Larry!

From the cover of the book (using the original cover of the April 1949 Dime Western pulp magazine) to the final two pages presenting the interesting and important “About the Author” essay, this book is a good addition to the list of novels involving the mix of real and fictional characters.

The time and site is 1813 in the Mississippi Territory, with the ongoing Creek War raging. Davy Crockett, Andrew Jackson, Red Eagle and the great horse Arrow are among the real, while a supporting cast of fictional characters—including a huge dog, Samson—fit together well. A separate type of character is the “demon” referred to in the title.

The book was published in both trade paperback and hardback, and while it might take some extra effort to track down the hardback, as a book collector I have gone for it. Besides, the little additional cost may help Lewis and his wife Irene to occasionally get off their usual diet of bear-grease and buffalo chips. Also, I heard there something called an eBook edition, but it is probably just a figment of someone’s imagination. I know Davy Crockett got along without such a thing, so I guess I can, too.

After finishing the book I would definitely recommend the reader the peruse the two Afterwords: The “Historical Note” is where Lewis outlines his mix of real and fictional characters and events. He seems to have done a good job of it.

The second Afterword is “About the Author,” where Lewis admits being under a life-long spell of Davy Crockett and lists some of the Davy “stuff” he’s collected over the years. I think this is an important part of his ability to write the book so well. I must admit that I have known him for over 40 years as both a friend and collector. Just recently he told me there were two songs he would want played at his funeral. I would hope they would play all fifty-some versions of “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” that he mentions in this Afterword, if only to drown out his other chosen song, “Louie, Louie.” But don’t hold that against him while you’re going out to get this book!

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