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Micheal Jimerson
Author
Where No Man Pursueth
Young Ray Elliott comes of age in the South during segregation enforced by Jim Crow laws. The murder of a leading citizen presents him a series of fateful decisions, turning a hard scrabble farmer’s future like a kaleidoscope. He makes a fateful promise to protect a fugitive from lynching, whatever the cost. Meanwhile, bank president Richard Watersong uses the distraction of his father-in-law’s murder to embezzle money and abscond to Cuba with a pregnant girl named Queen. His disgraced wife Eleanor raises their children and rebuilds the bank. She asks Ray Elliott—now a Texas Ranger—to find her husband, throwing herself at the lawman, but shame over his deceit drives him from her. The failed paths of these characters’ broken lives bring them together decades later to contest ownership of two hundred acres in the heart of the Great East Texas Oilfield. Cross-examination in a climatic courtroom confrontation unveils the true murderer, but the genuine challenge is whether any of the characters can put the pieces of their lives together to achieve redemption.
Plot/Idea: 6 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 6 out of 10
Character/Execution: 6 out of 10
Overall: 6.50 out of 10

Assessment:

Plot: The overlapping storylines in this book – a lawman chasing down an accused man, a white criminal on the run with his Black mistress, an oil glut raising issues in a developing town – are intriguing but sprawling. Readers may find it difficult to keep track of the many characters, settings, and plotlines.

Prose/Style: The book is most successful when probing into the psychological struggles of Ray Elliot, the fallible protagonist. But the perspective jumps around from character to character, and the style does not always provide the necessary interiority for great character development.

Originality: A quasi-Western, this book is original in its imperfect idea of justice. Unlike traditional genre entries, there is no clear-cut definition of good and evil.

Character Development/Execution: Ray Elliot is a complex lawman – committed to justice without knowing how to enforce it. The infrequent glimpses into his troubled psyche are some of the best parts of the book, but they’re overshadowed by extraneous plot points.

Date Submitted: April 02, 2021

Reviews
Katy Stanton on Goodreads/Amazon

 

Feb 28, 2021rated it really liked it
This isn't the kind of book I usually read, but I found myself glued until the last page. It's a book that grapples with difficult moral questions. Why do we want to simplify things to good versus evil when it's always more complicated than that? Ray Elliott is a character I found myself routing for even while wanting to give him a kick to the head. I'd say read this book if you want to understand more about Texas and its history and if you want to think seriously about criminal justice.
Mark Zvonkovic on NetGalley/Amazon/Goodreads

Oct 05, 2020Mark Zvonkovic rated it really liked it

Shelves: reviews

Where No Man Pursueth is a morality tale that is beautiful and believable.
Are there degrees of badness? Where No Man Pursueth asks the question in many ways. Is a lie as bad as a murder? Ray Elliot struggles with these questions for more than thirty years in the novel and decides on answers repeatedly, only to change his mind time and again. He says on several occasions, as do other characters, that some men need killing. But when he carries this philosophy out, it so adversely affects him that he is haunted by it, so much so that when near the end of the novel he confronts a man who is so evil a character that, hands down, he needs killing, Ray Elliot cannot do it.
The novel could be called a morality tale. The hero makes a mistake, and in his heroic efforts to correct it, bumbles his way down a number of wrong paths. The villain is a scoundrel and a killer who never seems to suffer what he clearly deserves and often enjoys what he shouldn’t. The heroine, one of the villains ill begotten bounties, asks the hero for help. But in the course of aiding her, the hero tells her a lie that shames him to such an extent that he must run away for decades to pay a penance. The three of these characters come together at the end to enact a scene of redemption. Well, sort of.
It is the “sort of” that makes Where No Man Pursueth a fine story. One thinks of the Hemingway novels when reading this novel. What happens never clearly displays an answer to the questions posed, particularly those associated with immorality. It’s a real depiction of life, what’s good and true, in Hemingway terminology. Texas literature also has many similar tales, where a clear of view of morality isn’t baked into a pie. Larry McMurtry is a master of those stories. If there is to be redemption at the end, the reader must provide it.
This is Jimerson’s first novel, and it is far too soon to say he is a Hemingway or a McMurtry. A polish isn’t quite there in his story telling, nor is there a mastery of the language. Truthfully, the prose is rough in some places and needed more editing. But the telling of the story by him is engaging, and at several points the action or the circumstances make it almost impossible to put down the book. And, for the telling of a tale like this one, the writer’s imperfections can be virtuous. The same can be said for Ray Eliot.
Where No Man Pursueth will not be embraced by the reader who wants a quick plot, slick language, and an easy to understand conclusion. A lover of the honest tale with an imperfect protagonist, who stumbles as much as he runs, will enjoy the story. Ray Eliot is a flawed but genuine hero, and his life is lived in a fashion that will wiggle around in your memory and your heart for some time to come.

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