Forty Lashes Less One
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Forty Lashes Less One

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  284 ratings  ·  20 reviews
The hell called Yuma Prison can destroy the soul of any man. And it's worse for those whose damning crime is the color of their skin. The law says Chiricahua Apache Raymond San Carlos and black-as-night former soldier Harold Jackson are murderers, and they'll stay behind bars until they're dead and rotting. But even in the worst place on Earth, there's hope. And for two ha...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published November 5th 2002 by HarperTorch (first published April 1972)
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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
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.
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
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.
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.

Good western in confined spaces. This book has the perfect balance of action and humor. Elmore was a very gifted author.
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.
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!
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.
Two convicts in an Arizona prison, early 1900s.
Simple, effective writing.
What a blast.
I loved this book
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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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