Cormac McCarthy - No Country For Old Men
The plot twists in unexpected ways, pushing back against conventions of justice or happy endings
| 15 Feb 2006
When Llewelyn Moss stumbles across the site of a drug deal gone bad - all corpses and shellcasings and an enormous amount of cash - he must decide quickly what turn his life will now take. The rest of this novel follows from that choice: watching Moss as he runs toward an imagined safety, as he sends his wife away, as he is tracked by the pensive Sheriff Bell. And most of all, as he is trailed by a man named Chigurh, blue-eyed and enigmatic, using a weapon that leaves no bullets Ã¢Â€Â“ just bullet-holes.
For its first two thirds, No Country For Old Men has all the trappings of a thriller Ã¢Â€Â“ the shoot-outs, the near escapes, the scenes of grisly murder. As much as it's a page-turner, it's also a slow burn. McCarthy invests his prose with a workman's poetry Ã¢Â€Â“ plain images linger and the words of Sheriff Bell hang in the air after he's spoken them. The plot twists in unexpected ways, pushing back against conventions of justice or happy endings, yet it's this ambivalent moral tone that gives the conclusion so much strength. Love Ã¢Â€Â“ central to this book as it was to McCarthy's Border Trilogy - can make life worth living. But it can't keep you alive.
Published by Picador. Out now (Cover Price Ã‚Â£16.99).