Just as you expect with McCarthy the minute the story winds up on Mexican soil for any length of time the blood begins to flow.
The first victim is the young prostitute that John Grady has gone to visit. She is tricked into getting into a cab that winds up with her having her throat cut. Grady is the one who identifies her in the morgue and then inevitably sets out to exact his revenge.
In a clever bit of deliberate miss-identification Billy is the first to get to the brothel and demands to know from the pimp running the place Eduardo what is going on. He is sent away with the warning that if Grady turns up there will be trouble.
Grady does turn up and gets cut badly in a knife fight with Eduardo that ultimately ends in the pimp’s death. But Grady is so badly wounded. That he just manages to struggle to a tearaways den and collapse. Billy finds him but his friend dies while he is away fetching water. He is grief stricken and picks his friend up and the bloody pair then end the scene walking down the Mexican street.
The book would have been powerful enough had it ended there but there is an update on Billy who is 78 and a wandering hobo. He meets someone who delivers a classic metaphorical sequence about a traveller in a dream and death. The traveller dreams that he is executed and wakes to find that although he is alive the dream did take place. What was the dream and what was reality? That is the message from that exchange.
Things end with Billy being taken in by a family who seem to not mind him being around and recognise him for what he is – one of the old cowboys.
A review will follow soon…