The Night Horseman by Max Brand – audio book review

I’m a big fan of Western films. I like the black and white corny classics of the 30s, the big screen Technicolors of the 50s, the spaghetti westerns of the 70s; I even liked the recent and very strange movie ‘Cowboys and Aliens’. So it’s surprising that I haven’t read any western novels. Having a pile of unread novels waiting by my bedside I decided to try some free audio books.

This is the first book I’ve listened to by Max Brand, the other two were by Zane Grey but I think Max Brand is the better storyteller. The Night Horseman is the second book in a series but it works well as a stand alone book. Its a complex story with many layers and subplots all centred around the main character Dan Berry. It begins with Dr Byrne attending the sick bed of old Joe Cumberland, the man who raised Dan Berry, and his subsequent advice that Dan Berry should be brought home to see the dying man. An event which would be both a blessing and a curse.

The novel is very Gothic mixed with a traditional western style story, but it is the range of secondary characters and the subtle wit which I really enjoyed. My favourite character must be Dr Byrne and his gradual character progression from ‘bookworm’ to ‘participant of life’. I also liked Buck Daniels as a person and the difficult decisions he has to make. The author did a good job with the female lead character, Kate Cumberland by not making her pathetic or weak, even though she had all the sense and reason of a woman hopelessly in love with the wrong man. The main character of Dan Berry isn’t a complex one but he is surrounded by mystery and his motives are sometimes hard to understand. This is probably the authors intention as he is portrayed more like a wild animal then a human being. I’m not sure if I like the main character Dan Berry, but maybe Ive known too many wild men with glowing yellow eyes!

Overall I really enjoyed this novel, for me it had the right mix of adventure, drama, love and human spirit topped of with a gothic atmosphere and witty dialogue and I’m looking forward to reading more of Max Brands novels.

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