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Forty Lashes Less One Mass Market Paperback – November 5, 2002

4.0 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Elmore Leonard wrote more than forty books during his long career, including the bestsellers Raylan, Tishomingo Blues, Be Cool, Get Shorty, and Rum Punch, as well as the acclaimed collection When the Women Come Out to Dance, which was a New York Times Notable Book. Many of his books have been made into movies, including Get Shorty and Out of Sight. The short story "Fire in the Hole," and three books, including Raylan, were the basis for the FX hit show Justified. Leonard received the Lifetime Achievement Award from PEN USA and the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. He died in 2013.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTorch; Reprint edition (November 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380822334
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380822331
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.7 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #424,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Forty Lashes Less One is the kind of book that hooks you from the start. It's the semi-old west (1909) but with more grit and true tone than you can find in most other gun totin' tales.
But then what can you expect from Elmore Leonard who gave us Valdez is Coming, 3:10 to Yuma, Hombre, The Tonto Woman and so many other good westerns?
For any of those high brow readers out there who think that westerns are beneath them then it might be worthwhile if they stuck their noses in a Leonard western if only to find out what good writing should and can be.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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 characters ranging from the seasoned prison guard to the preacher-turned-warden, Mr. Manly.

I have to say that the end of the book was surprising and the very last line made me laugh out loud as it turns into the ending that, as a reader, I would have hoped for. It made the characters more believable.

Overall, this was not Leonard's best book, but still showed some of his development as a writer.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
we begin in prison, a derelict place in the middle of nowhere, Arizona. an interim warden arrives with a new prisoner, a big black, taciturn man. before we know it, the warden, a failed Pentecostal preacher, is up to all kinds of foolishness, and the new prisoner begins an unlikely friendship with an Apache prisoner. by the end of the novel, we're on a cross-country manhunt, full of satisfying denouement as only the master can write it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As all Leonard's novels, but somewhat clichee'd.

Too obvious, too straightforward, in terms of scope and characters.

An enjoyable, easy read, but absolutely nothing to write home about.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Some minor spoilers included

When I was looking at the synopsis for this book it said it was about a Native American and an African American Union Soldier who were both released from prison in order to track down outlaws. I thought it was going to be a really cool bounty hunter drama, like the first hour of Django Unchained. But that isn't what it really is.

The book is mostly a prison drama. The above synopsis takes up only the final 10% of the book (I was reading on a kindle so I don't have any page numbers). Its about life in prison when a new warden takes over, a warden that believes in new techniques in trying to rehabilitate these men. He chooses the two leads as his personal pet projects and inspires them to embrace their inner warrior and it leads to them going from anonymous prisoners to two people who the rest of the population looks at in awe of because of their radical transformation. Once enemies, the two become friends as they spent time in prison learning to run for miles without stopping for water or how to accurately throw a spear, to become the perfect trackers.

I was upset that it wasn't an all action thriller, but in retrospect I guess that's not Leonard's style. It wasn't the story that I expected, but what I got instead turned out to be a very pleasant surprise.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you've never read Elmore Leonard , shame on you. The story takes place in Yuma prison, the story line is great , characters are fantastic. The description of prison life in those days, I don't know how he comes up with it. Mr. Leonard passed away last year, he will be missed, one of the greatest writers that ever lived in this country, maybe in the world. To me , L. Lamour does not hold a candle to Elmore Leonard westerns
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Another humdinger! Elmore Leonard spins yarns so engaging that one can barely put his book down. A prison story set in early 20th century Arizona that is timeless. Sleazy cons, corrupt guards, and a clueless warden. Throw in a couple of female prisoners and things get interesting.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Who else but Elmore Leonard could conceptualize and write a story like this? It was impossible to put down. Seemingly mundane characters should hook you as you follow their strange motivations. As always, Leonard's dialogue and description are fantastic (I cracked up when one of his characters casually observed a convict as having a beard that looked like the ass fur of a sick dog). Set in 1909 in Yuma Territorial Prison, Leonard throws in his literary belnder a black con, a half-breed Indian-Mexican, an important yardbird villain and his gang, a superintendent/evangelist, a whore, and some trippy guards and creates something typically and palpably offbeat. I thought the conclusion was a bit unrealistic and hokey, yet somehow satisfying. Leonard redefined the Western genre. It's an incredibly fast read -- and well worth your time to see for yourself. Want to burn a day or so and get lost in a book? This fits the bill. Enjoy it. It would be hard not to.
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