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Forty Lashes Less One
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Forty Lashes Less One

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  327 ratings  ·  28 reviews
When Elmore Leonard was just starting out as a writer, a man could make a living writing Westerns, especially if he was good at it--and Elmore Leonard was one of the best. In his Western novels, you can see the earliest traces of themes that would emerge in his contemporary crime novels. Although sheriffs and cavalry men look a little different than cops and G-men, Leonard...more
Mass Market Paperback, 168 pages
Published April 1972 by Bantam Books
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Carl Brush
Forty Lashes Less One is another Elmore oater. I said I was off these for a while, but when a buddy drops this on the front porch--well, why put the friendship in danger? I've read a number of novels set in Yuma prison, back in them days. All of them pretty grim, of course. I've read a good deal of Elmore, much of it pretty humorous. Forty Lashes has the distinction of being not only set in one of the grimmest settings in history, but probably the funniest Leonard novel I've ever read.

The black...more
Heath Lowrance
Surprisingly funny Western that takes place mostly within the walls of Yuma prison in the early part of the 20th century. Harold is the only black inmate at the soon-to-be-closed Yuma, and Raymond is the only Indian, which makes them the targets of derision. Shelby, a prisoner with connections, makes their lives hell, until the new warden, Mr. Manly, takes a special interest in the pair and decides to elevate their confidence in the hopes he can bring them to Jesus. Harold and Raymond eventually...more
Don Massenzio
Forty Lashes Less One was a return to Leonard's western genre. Set in a desert prison, the story centers around the conflict-turned friendship between an African American and a Native American. This book is a bit more gritty than some of Leonard's books that I have read to date. The liberal use of the dreaded "N-word" throughout the book, although likely accurate to the culture of the time period, made me feel a bit uncomfortable as I read the book. The book has an interesting group of character...more
Jonathan Briggs
I wish Elmore Leonard wrote more westerns. Absolutely nothing against his superb crime thrillers, but the western really brought out his inner Hemingway, terse and tough and worn to perfection like old saddle leather. “Forty Lashes” is a bit of a transition novel, taking place in the waning days of the Old West and published as Leonard was making the switch to urban action. It has more of the wiseass sense of humor that marks his later novels. Inside Yuma Prison, Harold Jackson and Raymond San C...more
Bad-at-reading
As someone who usually finds Leonard's books too pointless to really get into, his unpretentious yet insightful take on racism in this one was welcome. It gets a little jokey at times but unlike most white genre fiction writers to tackle the subject it seems a product of real empathy. Also interesting is that, being mostly set in a prison, it doesn't really feel like a western. But you know that outside the walls is the Arizona desert of 1908, and then at the end you go there.
Tj Wilson
This is probably Elmore Leonard's most Spaghetti Western novel yet. It is a very odd idea or premise, but yet Leonard's confident style, his blunt writing, makes this story work. And, of course, the ending is very Leonardish, which I very much like. Leonard isn't scared of taking very odd and creative chances.
John
An Elmore Leonard Western novel from 1972. Plot is well-contained, characters are well-defined and dialogue is terse and vintage-Leonard. Worth re-reading.
Tim Prosser

Having read every Elmore Leonard book about ten times (possibly more!) I thought I'd take a look at some of his early westerns. I'm glad I did. This book has all the elements of his Detroit, Miami, and Atlantic City novels. Its all here in glorious print: oblique machine gun dialogue, closely observed behavior, a smiling sunny cynicism, a melancholic outrage and courage. Absolutely brilliant, I'm going to tuck into Valdez is Coming next. I vaguely remember the film with Burt Lancaster playing th...more
Scott
Leonard's writing in this book is the epitome of the modern Western.
Brian
When a somewhat pious, square warden runs into a guard crouching down and spying on the female prisoners taking a shower and has a hilarious back and forth about the guard's intentions, you have one of the most memorable scenes in any novel I've ever read.

This book was another example of Elmore Leonard's mastery of crisp plotting, fine set piece action, brief but descriptive atmospheric details and sharp dialogue, even if the central story has a great deal of silliness to it.
Cody Gardner
This is the first Elmore Leonard book that I have read and I must admit I was somewhat disappointed in it. However, I think it was more of the story and setting than anything else. Leonard is definitely a remarkable writer and I plan on reading more of his stuff. Wasn't too impressed with this story however. It takes too long to go anywhere. The last 20-30 pages are great though and I was impressed on how quickly he wrapped it all up without it seeming rushed. Even with my disappointment, I'm lo...more
Monte Dutton
I already miss Elmore Leonard, and going back to his westerns is evidence of the void left in my reading list by his passing. Everything Leonard wrote was good. This one's long on stock characters. It reminded me of the latter-day John Wayne movies. It's entertaining, like,say, "Chisum," but not a classic like, say, "Red River." The difference, likely in general, too, is that authors, unlike actors, get better with age.
Patrick
There is an autumnal glow about this book, which in movie terms is more like "High Plains Drifter" than like "Silverado." Characters in this story are as hardboiled and believable as anything in Elmore Leonard's urban fiction, and a surprising tie-in to the travails of Paul the Apostle elevates this above the "horse opera" level well-trod by less ambitious writers in the western genre.
Bob
Perfect

Good western in confined spaces. This book has the perfect balance of action and humor. Elmore was a very gifted author.
Nicholos
Not the most exciting book you'll pick off the shelf, but it is pretty good. Refreshingly concise with its style after reading several books that tended to bloviate and meander into maddening amounts of minutia.
David Saliba
If you like Leonard's crime fiction, you will like this book as well. While classified as a western, it is more about racial prejudice and hypocritical religious figures than cowboys. A enjoyable read.
Craig Anderson
I read Leonard's crime fiction first and now that I've found his western writing I consider him one of the best in this genre as well.
Ross Mckeen
Nothing like a little Elmore Leonard to get to the basics. I think this is the first of his westerns I've read.
Brian
Fun hardboiled ride with some unique players. There was plenty of action, but it wasn't exciting or urgent.
David Williams
This was an excellent book. It is a lot of fun. Best $3.99 I've spent in a long time. Thanks Amazon!
Jason
surprisingly, no whipping or any whipping up to a number of 40.
Jeroen Nijs
Such a fun read. I wish that more books were like this.
Tara
Two convicts in an Arizona prison, early 1900s.
J.E.
Simple, effective writing.
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Elmore John Leonard lived in Dallas, Oklahoma City and Memphis before settling in Detroit in 1935. After serving in the navy, he studied English literature at the University of Detroit where he entered a short story competition. His earliest published novels in the 1950s were westerns, but Leonard went on to specialize in crime fiction and suspense thrillers, many of which have been adapted into m...more
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