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Journey of the Dead Mass Market Paperback – July 15, 1999


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books; 1st edition (July 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812549163
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812549164
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,852,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

YA-In this elegantly conceived western, Billy the Kid's death haunts his killer until such time as Pat Garrett, the murderer, is assassinated-by Billy's ghost. Estleman presents this tale through the testimonial manuscript of an ancient Spaniard, Francisco de la Zaragoza, of Durango, Mexico, already into his second century when he meets Pat Garrett soon after Billy's death. In spite of these character oddities and plot spins, Estleman's book makes quick and absorbing reading, carrying readers straight into the Southwest of the late 19th century, where men necessarily feared for their lives even in the company of their closest buddies and women were relegated-here quite literally-to the roles of whore or mother. Teens who haven't had the opportunity to become acquainted with this uniquely American genre can get an excellent first taste of it here. However, in keeping with our contemporary mores, Estleman allows his character to be shown in sexual congress, something Zane Grey would never have done.
Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Although he is better known for his mysteries, Estleman (Edsel) has written some elegant Westerns based on actual characters and events. Journey of the Dead is narrated by an alchemist named Francisco de la Zaragoza who has spent his long life searching for the philosopher's stone and is famous as a healer and wise man. Sheriff Pat Garrett, haunted by the specter of Billy the Kid, seeks him out along the fabled Jornada de la Muerta, hoping that Francisco can make his nightmares go away. These two personalities swap their stories and evoke the splendor of the American Southwest. Billy Bonney is not romanticized here, but his story is told in language as polished as a buffalo nickel. Robert Forster's grim, rather flat voice is perfect for Garrett, whose life was so full of blood and death. Estleman's writing style has always been evocative, but this is his best yet. Enthusiastically recommended for all public libraries.DBarbara Perkins, Irving P.L., TX
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Loren D. Estleman graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 1974 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Journalism. In 2002, his alma mater presented him with an honorary doctorate in letters. He left the job market in 1980 to write full time, after a few years spent "pounding out beat-the-train journalism" during his day job as a reporter before going home and writing fiction at night.

His first novel was published in 1976, and has been followed by more than 70 books and hundreds of short stories and articles. His series include novels about Detroit detective Amos Walker, professional killer Peter Macklin, L.A. film detective and amateur sleuth Valentino, and the Detroit crime series. On the western side is the U.S. Deputy Marshal Page Murdock series. Additionally, he's written dozens of stand-alone novels.

His books have been translated into 27 languages and have won multiple Shamus, Spur, Western Heritage, and Stirrup awards. He has been nominated for the National Book Award and the Edgar Allan Poe Award. In 2012, the Western Writers of America honored him with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

He lives in Michigan and is married to writer Deborah Morgan. Find out more about Estleman and his books on his website: lorenestleman.com

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Guild TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 30, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is probably the most unusual book on The Old West that I've ever come across.To say that I enjoyed it immensely would be an understatement.Although the stories about Sheriff Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid have been told and retold by so many that at this stage it is almost impossible to sort the truth from the legend. In this book,the author introduces come very imaginative fiction to create a whole new approach to the story. You may not resolve much of the things that have been written; but that is beside the point, and not the reason for me thinking so much of this book. The author gets one right inside the inner thoughts and personalities of all the characters he covers.I found the book filled with historical facts, but it reads like a work of fiction.There are scenes after scenes that are so well described,that can only be described as masterfully imagined and written.I find it hard to think of any other western that has so many ,well written lines as this.The scene created with Garrett's meeting with President Teddy Roosevelt in the railway car will be unforgettable to me. The introduction of the alchemist is a brilliant idea and makes the whole story totally different fom anything else I've ever come across in a western.Then there is the continually reoccurring encounters Pat has with Billy Bonney in his dreams.

In this unusually crafted saga,Estleman takes us along with Pat Garrett and follow him from his earliest days until his death in 1909,basically all throughout the period generally known as the Old West.At times, the historical information is detailed like a history book,but totally without the drudgery we are used to.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By iqhope on January 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I have never heard of this author before I picked up the book in a local thrift store. What I can't believe is that I've never heard of this author after I finished reading the book. I can't wait to go out and find more of his books!
This book is essentially a fictitional account of the real life of Sheriff Pat Garrett--infamous for killing Billy the Kid. It has a secondary character who narrates and intersperses personal observations throughout the story, which adds an interesting dimension to the story. I'm not totally sure why he's there at all, but it does add a little 'drive' throughout the book--I wanted to keep reading to see what this narrator character was going to divulge next.
Estleman is deliciously ingenious with mental images. His passages read so brilliantly with his descriptions and metaphors that you can't help but instantly develop an image in your head as you watch your own internal moving picture. Simple phrases such as "...the clatter of a heavy wagon built of elm delivering a load of rocks smelling of moist earth..." jolts your own memory to relive personal images that almost match this scene and let you fall into the arms of the storyteller.
Ths story itself takes place over several decades and highlights supposed 'facts' of the life of Pat Garrett, but seems to fill in details while skipping them alltogether. You don't feel anything missing at the end of the story.
If you haven't read this book, or any book by Loren D. Estleman, I highly advice you to try him out -- even if it isn't this particular book. While I haven't read his other books yet, if his methodology and story-telling skills are equal to this slim volume, I can't wait to read the rest!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Having read and disliked Master Executioner, but seeing all the rave reviews Estleman gets, I thought I'd try another of his books.
This book is better than Master Executioner by far. The essential difference is the use of language -- nearly poetic here, plodding in the other book. Journey of the Dead is the combined story of Pat Garrett, the man who shot Billy the Kid, and of an old Spanish alchemist who lives as a hermit in the desert.
Estleman does a good, understated job of showing how Garrett is haunted by Billy's death throughout his life. The effect would have been stronger had their friendship been more extensively described. Still, the changing Billy the Kid legend provides an interesting way for Estleman to show changes in Garrett's life and in the West.
I found the plot to move a little slowly, probably because it concerns the life of a real person, more or less accurately reported as far as I know. Garrett tried many careers and had rather little success in any, according to Estleman, until he was finally murdered. This imposes a sort of flat quality on the plot. There are no big moments of drama, aside from Billy's death, and even that comes across as understated. Toward the end of the book, I got a trifle bored and wished for more tension and drama in the narrative.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 27, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Qualifies as a well-written work of literature rich in symbolism, with an entertaining story and a history lesson as well.
Kind of reminds me of something Cormac McCarthy would write if he did a historical western novel...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By GK Loungerunner on March 5, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
FANTASTIC book. Esteleman's writing leaves you in awe...you almost expect to be breathless reading parts of it.
Truthfully, the book really does lag in parts, when Garrett steps out of the west into the different stages of American history; and aside from the part hunting Billy, the time in the old west is lacking at times, but maybe that's just because Estleman tried to keep the book at least somewhat faithful to real life history and I was expecting something that had more of a traditional romantic aspect to the old west.
All in all, though, it's recommended. Estleman's writing style takes your breath away at first, and leaves you thinking later. Hell, I don't even like westerns, I just chanced upon this at some gas station on the road amid the normal pulp books found at any gas station, and I thought this a great book.
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