Book review: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ride again in a tale of 'Legends Lost'

By Mike Whitmer

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Sept. 1 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

"LEGENDS LOST," by Charlie Mac, Filter Press, $24.95, 320 pages (f)

The legend of Robert LeRoy Parker and Mike "Butch" Cassidy has always been an intriguing tale, but never more so than when Robert Redford and Paul Newman portrayed the villains/heroes in the 1969 movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."

Over the years, there has been some regret that the ending of the movie seemed to indicate that the two outlaws died in an exchange of gunfire with the Bolivian army. An undercurrent of hope flowed through believers that a miraculous escape was once again executed by the corrupt but likable drifters.

After watching an interview with one of the movie's stars, Californian Charlie Mac decided to embark on a mission to spell out how the two men could have escaped and continued on with their lives. The new book, "Legends Lost," is the culmination of Mac’s effort to put a new spin on the old tale.

In this story, ever-resourceful Cassidy and Parker escape the clutches of the Bolivian Army and still make it look as if they died in the battle. After healing from their wounds, they return to the U.S. under assumed names. With the help of Sundance’s girlfriend, Etta Place, and others they each enter the world of respectability and begin to build a better life. Unfortunately, old events won't let them be as carefree as they had hoped.

When the boys made their last train robbery (the one that sent the LeFors posse after them) they not only stole money from the railroad payroll but also took possession of something that was very important to the owner of the railroad. Not a man to be trifled with, E.H. Harriman gets wind that Butch and Sundance didn’t really die in Bolivia. Though he is near death himself, he instructs his best security man, Elias Kotkin, to spare no effort in finding the object and eliminating anyone associated with the two reformed criminals.

What follows is an entertaining story of what might have happened if two of the most notorious criminals of the 19th century had not been killed participating in their chosen field of labor. Mac does great justice to the image of Butch and Sundance by posing them in the light of repentant, though not necessarily reformed, desperadoes. Not everyone will like the ending, but it certainly does open the door for hope that outlaws can become different people.

Readers should be aware that there is a fair amount of foul language in this book . Violence is prolific and sometimes gratuitous in nature, especially since Kotkin has no moral qualms. Several characters are associated with immoral/sexual behavior, but there are no graphic representations.

"Legends Lost" is an excellent story by a new author and would be appropriate for mature readers.

Mike Whitmer lives in West Valley City and has been to the Robber's Roost. His email is grundelwalken@gmail.com and he blogs at mtwhitmer.blogspot.com.

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