book cover of The Hombre From Sonora
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The Hombre From Sonora

(The Difference)
A novel by

The Difference was described by Charles Willeford as a post modern western. Filled with outcasts and misfits, liberally dosed with black humour and jarring violence, and set in the wild west of 1880's Arizona.

The protagonist, Johnny Shaw returns to southern Arizona to collect his inheritance, but before long becomes embroiled in a deadly dispute with the Reardon family, which results in the death of one of the sons. Shaw flees and finds an unlikely ally in a blacksmith, Jake Dover, who knew and respected Shaw's father. Dover hides Shaw from the Reardon's, and teaches him how to use a gun with speed and precision. Finally Shaw returns to Arizona fo an almighty showdown.

Shaw tells the story from his point of view, believing himself to be right, but Shaw's professed virtue is at sharp odds with his actions. Those actions are made especially jarring by Willeford's terse prose, which adds impact to his character's sudden, simple bursts of violence.

Regarding The Difference, Willeford once gave a student the sound advice to "read this book, but don't understand it too fast." A morality play as disguised as genre potboiler, The Difference is a thinking-man's Western.

Genre: Mystery

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