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Book Cover Image: Three-Ten to Yuma by Elmore LeonardTitle: Three-Ten to Yuma

Author: Elmore Leonard

Narrator: Henry Rollins

Audiobook Length: 33 minutes

Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books):

“Trust was rare and precious in the wide-open towns that sprung up like weeds on America’s frontier — with hustlers and hucksters arriving in droves by horse, coach, wagon, and rail, and gunmen working both sides of the law, all too eager to end a man’s life with a well-placed bullet.”

Thoughts: Three-Ten to Yuma was recommended to me as a great audiobook. As westerns are not my usual genre, and I have never seen the movie, I was not certain what to expect. What I found was a suspenseful short story that packed a lot of drama into a very small amount of time.

As a short story, there is no character development, no big insights into the characters’ thought processes. The entire story itself hinges on one main, rather simplistic, plot point: a sheriff is trying to get his detainee, an infamous outlaw, onto a train without getting killed by the outlaw’s friends or without the detainee escaping. The story itself starts out with no explanation, and the reader is left to fill in the details through clues in the dialogue. There is even the surprise addition of philosophical discussions on why one works and continues in the face of great odds. This discussion helps to build the tension, which increases subtly until it reaches the climactic moment by the train.

Henry Rollins is a great choice for narrator of this gruff little story. He does not add nor detract from the unfolding drama. Better yet, his voice contains the perfect world weariness and cynicism to vocalize both the detainee and the sheriff.

Short stories and westerns are not my thing, but Three-Ten to Yuma was a great way to break out into a different genre and different format. The story was engaging enough to keep my interest in spite of my dubiousness at the overall subject matter. I felt sympathy for both the sheriff and the detainee, who were both just trying to do their jobs. Three-Ten to Yuma is definitely a little story that packs a punch.

Acknowledgements: Mine. All mine.

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