Melissa Lenhardt, Sawbones


This Western novel was inspired by the appreciation that the author’s father had for Larry McMurtry‘s Lonesome Dove. In the book, the main female character, a young doctor accused of committing murder in New York City, flees to the frontier to start a new life. The convoy she travels with through Texas is attacked by Indians and she is the lone survivor. One of the officers involved in her rescue is injured and she treats him, saving his life. They fall in love and they flee together when information about her real identity surfaces and she is threatened.

The writing is conventional and effective; the author is a good storyteller. The emotional dimensions of the book, though, remain superficial and could have been better exploited. We are told about emotions but the writing is not conducive to experimenting them vicariously, especially when it comes to the development of love and affection between the main character and the officer she saves. I found the first half of the book quite interesting but the second half felt more rushed.

The portrayal of characters and their relationships were rather stereotypical. There are some attempts at introducing nuances (such as when the young doctor gets to know the prostitutes who serves the frontier town) but most are one-sided stereotypes. Even accounting for the fact that the novel is set in the 19th century, it constricted how interactions and dialogues were handled in the novel.

Future works may show an evolution in a direction that might make them a more satisfying read for me.

I was given access to this book by the publisher through Net Galley.


Lenhardt, Melissa. Sawbones. Redhook Books, 2016.

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