River’s End Holds Unexpected Laughs

With its mix of Western adventure, mistaken identity, mystery, and romance, James Oliver Curwood’s 1920 bestseller, The River’s End, reads like Hollywood film plot.

As he is dying, lawman Derwent Conniston urges the outlaw John Keith to assume his identify and thus evade recapture for the killing of Judge Kirkstone. The two men look as alike as twins. Keith figures it’s worth a try.

Keith passes muster with the Royal Northwest Mounted Police commander, who is too upset by the late judge’s daughter’s dalliance with a shadowy Chinese businessman to ask many questions. Shan Tung, however, recognizes Keith for who he is.

Within hours, Conniston’s sister arrives from England looking for the brother she’s not seen for seven years. It’s love at first kiss for Keith, who has to figure out how to get the girl without getting hanged for the judge’s murder.

Keith first has to learn what Shan Tung knows that’s kept him from identifying Keith to the authorities and why Mariam Kirkstone is in thrall to Shan Tung.

If that all sounds silly, it’s nothing compared to the plot wrap up which features, among other events, Shan Tung showing off his Yale diploma.

You’ll enjoy The River’s End for all the wrong reasons. It’s an awful novel, so absurd that reading it is tremendous fun.

The River’s End
by James Oliver Curwood
1920 bestseller #4
Project Gutenberg ebook #4747
My grade: C

© 2010 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Project Gutenberg

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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