Several years after writing The Trail to Crazy Man as a submission for a western magazine, Louis L’Amour edited and expanded it for publication as a paperback novel. It is a rousing story of good versus evil in the wild American West.
The Main Body:
The Trail to Crazy Man opens in a setting that will be unfamiliar to many Louis L’Amour fans. Instead of joining a cowboy riding on the open range, the listener is transported to the dark and dank hold of a merchant ship where a man named Charles Rodney is on his death-bed. It seems he and his friend Rafe Caradec have spent the last several months being forced to work aboard ship after being shanghaied from a California port city.
Before Rodney succumbs to the injuries caused from repeated beatings by the cruel ship’s captain, he signs a deed to half of his western ranch over to his friend Caradec and asks him to promise that he will look after the rancher’s wife and daughter.
The next chapter finds Rafe in Wyoming territory after escaping from his shipboard imprisonment, where he attempts to keep the vow he made to his dying friend. He discovers that Mrs. Rodney has died and a man who wants to gain control of the ranch that is rightfully hers is courting her daughter. Rafe takes up residence in the area while trying to decide what the girl’s true feelings are toward her suitor and what the man’s motives might be.
The action sequences come fast and furious as Rafe adjusts to life on the frontier. During the next few weeks, Caradec bonds with a band of Native Americans, is joined by some of his former shipmates and discovers a secret on the Rodney ranch that goes a long way toward explaining some of the mysterious things that have happened.
The Trail to Crazy Man builds rapidly to a suspenseful climax as our hero attempts to unmask the evil doers and convince young Miss Rodney that he really did befriend her father and knows the man’s dying wishes about his daughter. Since this is a typical Louis L’Amour story, the final outcome is never really in doubt, but the ending is satisfying nonetheless.
Christopher Lane narrates the book with a voice that is very appropriate for the rough and ready characters that populate the story. His pronunciation is crisp and his ability to communicate the drama and tension of the plot through his tone and tempo is unmatched.