Reason for reading: Cormac McCarthy has become one of my favorite authors. This is the third of his books I have read this year. The story sounded exciting and interesting.
Llewelyn Moss is hunting in the Texas hills when he comes across the scene of a bloody confrontation. There he finds several dead bodies, a small arsenal, a pile of heroin and $2.4 million. He leaves everything but the money and some weapons knowing that whoever the money belongs to will soon be hunting him. A stunningly violent and remorseless man hunts Moss across Texas while a local sheriff struggles to discover what is happening.
The most thoughtful characters in the book are the sheriff and Anton Chigurh, the man who hunts Moss. The sheriff ruminates on the fall of the country to violence, the violence which Chigurh represents. He considers his career as a sheriff and how the troubles he has faced as an officer of the law have become almost unbearable. Where once people were concerned with young people chewing gum and causing mischief, they now see rape and murder as the trouble of youth. Chigurh’s approach to violence is wholly representative, a flip of a coin determines whether he kills or stays his hand.
There are a couple weaknesses in the book. At one point Moss picks up a teenage girl hitchhiker on his run from evil. In this short section of the novel the tone takes a strange sort of turn and is atypical of the rest of the book. There is also a long discussion of the sheriff’s past life which is out of the ordinary. However, these are fairly picky and minor concerns.
No Country for Old Men has the plot of a typical thriller but nothing near typical writing. McCarthy is a genius of prose and tells the story in his typically sparse but thoughtful manner. This is a thriller for those who appreciate literature. It is a terrific read and an outstanding book. However, beware as there is no hope in this book. Like many of McCarthy’s novels it is a treatise on America and violence, which seem to go hand in hand.