I had returned all of my library books and was searching for something, anything, to read before falling asleep. My husband plopped Lonely on the Mountain into my hands, telling me that if I liked the Louis L’Amour movies about the Sacketts, I would enjoy this book.
Who hasn’t heard of Louis L’Amour? He is to westerns as Stephen King is to horror novels. He himself said throughout the span of his career that he wanted to be remembered as a good storyteller. Although I’m not much of a fan of westerns, I agreed to try it out. I was pleasantly surprised.
Lonely on the Mountain is the sixteenth and last book in the series L’Amour wrote about the fictional Tennessee mountain family, the Sacketts. This particular book in the series was written in 1980 and finds two of the Sackett brothers on a cattle drive. From a gold camp in western Canada, cousin Logan Sackett has sent out a call for help and a coded warning, “You can expect Higginses.” He needs over a thousand head of cattle to fulfill a promise he made, or else. Not knowing what kind of trouble they can expect, who to trust, and where to meet up with brother Orrin who is bringing supplies, Tell and Tyrell Sackett drive the cattle across Sioux land and the border. Along the way they meet with various problems. A stampede threatens to thwart their family duty to cousin Logan. Fellow travelers and cowhands who are not who they claim to be join their drive. The land over which they travel is rugged and the Sioux threaten to attack. Someone trails them, likely to keep them in any way possible from their destination. By all accounts, they should turn back and forget about helping their cousin. But the Sacketts hold to a deep family honor, and when one is in trouble the others respond no matter what danger they may walk into.
Having watched the Sackett miniseries on television, I pictured the characters as they were in the movie and was not disappointed. In places, I was a little confused as to which of the brothers was narrating the story, especially where the story line left the cattle drive and began to follow Orrin’s path to meet up with his brothers. This book has plenty of adventure and does not slow down until the very last few pages. I was a little disappointed in the ending. I felt the five pages that wrapped the entire story up was a little too rushed. But who am I to question the master western storyteller of our time, one that has retained that honor even after his death in 1988?
In fact, Lonely on the Mountain has persuaded me to seek out one or two of the first books in the Sackett series. Who knows? Perhaps I will become a diehard reader of westerns yet.