Book Review: The Ox-Bow Incident (Clark)


WELL TODAY SUCKED.

But let’s not talk about that. Let’s do a book review instead.
Let’s review The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Clark! Spoilers as usual.

Have I read this before: Yes! Summer of 2007.

Review: I like this book, man. It’s technically a western, which is about on par with fantasy in terms of being a genre that I’m not particularly fond of, but it’s a good book. It’s a story about a mob that goes out searching for a group of supposed cattle rustlers and murderers. There is a wide variety of opinions within the mob regarding the legality and moral implications of their plans (lynching the suspected rustlers/murderers once they’re found). Even though the book is written from the perspective of one of the drifters who kind of gets drawn into the mob, you really get a good sense of these different perspectives, especially the perspective of Davies, the man who is most strongly opposed to the lynchings. Despite a decent amount of opposition once they find the three rustling/murdering suspects, the mob ends up lynching them. Once they return to town, they find out that the suspects were telling the truth—they neither rustled any cattle nor murdered anyone.

Favorite part: It’s pretty bad to say this is my favorite part, but I really enjoyed the struggle of Davies as he discusses his guilt with Art (one of the drifters) after they return to town from the lynching.

“There wasn’t proof,” I [Art] said angrily. “You don’t get all set for a hanging and stop for some little feeling you have.”
“You might,” he [Davies] said, “when you’re hanging on a feeling too.”

Rating: 6.5/10

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