"The detail is unerring ... and this magisterial grasp of time and place lends the story vivid veracity. The characters leap off the page and the plotting is faultless."John Boorman, Director of Point Blank and Deliverance
"Gulvin’s narrative has a distinctly cinematic feel, and his settingthe windswept plains and desolate highways of Texaslends an eeriness that lingers throughout. The final twist is a doozy, and the devil is in the story’s cleverly seeded details." Publisher's Weekly
With a gun on each hip and godson to the Ranger that took down Bonnie and Clyde, 36-year-old John Quarrie is Old School West with old west values, the very embodiment of the "One Riot - One Ranger" epithet. It's 1967, and, with students across the state protesting the Vietnam War, the Texas Rangers are stretched pretty thin.
A single father, Quarrie lives on a ranch in the Texas panhandle. Grabbling for catfish at the site of a train wreck on Memorial Day, he and his son come across the skull of a young boy. At first, the discovery seems to have no bearing on the suicide of a fellow war vet that John Q is called on to investigate. But what starts out as a single line of inquiry becomes a desperate race to find a killer who has a secret as dark and tragic as any cop is ever going to uncover.
About the Author
JM Gulvin divides his time between Wales and the western United States. He is the author of many previous novels, as well as Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman's bestselling travel book Long Way Down. The Long Count is his first John Q mystery. He is married and has two daughters.
What People are Saying About This
"Some people who were born here don't know the West, and others come here from very far away and find home for the first time. The West is its own place and Jim Gulvin knows it very well a dandy book that is well written, well plotted, well everything a great read."Peter Bowen, Author of the Gabriel Du Pre' mysteries
Q&A with JM Gulvin, author of THE LONG COUNT
What is a "long count?" Why that phrase for the title?
I made the title up. I'd been watching a TV program about hand-fishermen and heard a comment about how long someone can stay underwater. Given the early scene on The Red River, it was perfect.
This is your first crime fiction novel about John Quarrie John Q a Texas Ranger. Why make him a Ranger and not just a regular detective?
I wanted to combine a crime series with Old West values and I wanted the landscape to be part of that series. Back in the sixties the Rangers weren't quite the modern police force they are today, so that was the right role for John Q. Rangers respond to calls for assistance whereas most detectives specialize. Because of that Rangers investigate everything, so that gives the series the scope I'm looking for.
Can you tell us a little about your writing process does the story come to you out of the blue or do you get to the end through writing? Do you have a writing routine?
It varies. I always know the end before I begin, but the story evolves as I work. I tend to write so much then go back to the beginning, go through it all again and write some more. I continue this way till I finally push for the summit.
The suspect in the book has escaped from a mental hospital how much research did you do regarding mental health and crime?
I knew about the condition because I'd experienced it when I worked as a volunteer with mental health patients 20 years ago. I didn't do too much paper research as the condition is still not really recognized in the UK, though it is in the US. My approach was through the people I'd worked with.
John Q is a single father. His relationship with his son seems to inform his decency as a detective he genuinely cares about the people he can help through the cases he solves. Who or what was your inspiration for his character?
The single father aspect came from me. I have two daughters I brought up on my own, and tried to instill a decent, can-do approach to life. He was also partially inspired by real-life Wyoming police officer Ed Cantrell.
You're British and yet you're writing about the American west what brings you to that subject?
I grew up watching westerns on TV. By the time, I saw "A Fistful of Dollars" I was steeped in classic series such as The High Chaparral and Alias Smith & Jones. There was something about the landscape and the nature of the people I could identify with. I started to think I'd been born in the wrong place at the wrong time then in the early 1990's I read "All The Pretty Horses" and that was it for me. From that moment, I started to build towards what I'm doing now. Perhaps as I'm not "on the ground" all the time so to speak I'm able to add something to the genre.
Who are your favorite crime fiction writers?
I don't read a lot of crime for fear of inadvertently pinching someone else's ideas. That said there are few writers out there better than Dennis LeHane.
What is the one book everyone knows that you wish you had written?
"All The Pretty Horses" by Cormac McCarthy
Was there anything that surprised you while you were writing THE LONG COUNT?
How natural it seemed given I'm not American, but British. My agent told me that after all these years I'd found my literary voice. He reminded me that one of the most read western writers of all time was JT Edson, from the UK.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A Texas Ranger is called across the state to investigate the killing of a deputy sheriff and on his way he stumbles upon an apparent suicide which he believes looks a little fishy. He leaves that for the locals to handle and as he gets involved in the deputy's case he finds more bodies and tries to figure out the connection between all of them and the apparent suicide. It seems as if they all go back to a mental hospital and a particular doctor. The Ranger, John Q., gets some help from a returning Vet from Vietnam who was the son of the apparent suicide victim. Trying to work through all of this John Q. is trying to keep in touch with his son who is working on a school project dealing with a train crash early in the 1900s. Some how through all of the twists and turns the case is solved and closure brought to a lot of people. John Q is a Texas Ranger that can be placed next to Augustus McCrae and Woodrow F. Call from Lonesome Dove fame. He is quick on the draw, compassionate, and works for the underdog. This is an excellent start to a new series of mysteries from JM Gulvin. Excellent read.
Well this was an opening chapter I’ll not forget in a hurry! I can still feel the heat of the Texan sun on my back and the sweat running down my face. This is the first book in a series and I’ve very pleased about that! There’s something about this Texas Ranger that I like and respect. I can’t say I’ve quite met any one like him before and I’m keen to see what happens in his life next. He does get up to some violent goings on and some dubious assignments but then this is his world – matched only by the writing. First there’s the short sharp opening chapter which stabs you in the heart and then the second one which transports you back so quickly to the slow Texan pace of life that I swear I got whiplash. Back and forth, back and forth I went. And the whiplash got worse but it was totally worth the ride. Quarrie is an intriguing man isn’t he? I changed my opinion as to what he looked like at several point of the novel as I just can’t picture him – shadow of intrigue line his face. His lifestyle and approach to life just fascinates me and I will definitely be reading book two. From the dirt of the Texan dust bowl, Quarrie draws you down deep in to the dark recesses of the human psyche and shows you things that will shock, surprise and totally totally get you sucked in to his world. That’s if the language doesn’t floor you with its gritty, atmospheric, native drawl. The Long Count? I hope not too long a count to the next installment !