Elmer Kelton saga continues

Elmer Kelton saga continues

      Elmer Kelton, who died in 2009, featured Hewey Calloway in three of his novels – the best known being The Good Old Boys, which became a movie starring Tommy Lee Jones as Calloway.

A prequel — Six Bits a Day — and a sequel — The Smiling Country – followed, and evidently Kelton had planned another Calloway title or two before he died. Hewey was perhaps Elmer’s favorite character.

Elmer’s son, Steve Kelton, keeps the Calloway saga going with a new novel, The Unlikely Lawman, a paperback labeled “an Elmer Kelton western by Steve Kelton.” Steve did a great job preserving the style and voice of his father as Hewey joins an ex-Texas Ranger to track down three bad guys in Colorado.

Steve had started on still another Hewey Calloway story, but Steve died last spring after a long illness. So there may or may not be another book forthcoming.

Meanwhile, Elmer Kelton fans can enjoy this one. And a late-November release is planned for a paperback reprise combining The Good Old Boys and The Smiling Country.

            Chronologically, The Unlikely Lawman fits in after Six Bits a Day (set in 1889) and before The Good Old Boys (1906). In 1904, Hewey at age 37 or so is still the fun-loving, yarn-spinning, bronc-busting cowboy with no intention of ever settling down. And he certainly never planned to have to shoot anyone.

“I wrote The Unlikely Lawman,” Steve Kelton says in an author’s note, “based on where Dad said he wanted it to begin and how he wanted to launch it; from there I had no idea what his plot would be because he never wrote an outline or synopsis for a book, preferring to let his characters drive the plot. That’s what I’ve done as well. I also knew where he wanted it to end, and this book stops well short of there. The follow-up book will end as Dad intended, however, come hell or high water.”

Perhaps another Kelton family member or friend will be able to finish the saga.