Epic battle in bloody novel

Book: No Country for Old Men

Book: No Country for Old Men

Author: Cormac McCarthy

Publisher: Vintage Books

Reviewer: Siyabonga Africa

The novelNo Country for Old Men reads like a western set in the 20th century.

A thrilling cat-and-mouse game over a drug deal gone wrong pits the main characters against each other in a complex tale of greed, war and violence in a time when everyone is a shade of good and bad.

The first thing you notice about author McCarthy's latest novel is that there really is no hero. All the characters are locked in an epic battle that seems to have been raging for all eternity.

The mood is set in the first chapter with one of literature's most notorious killers, Anton Chigurh, escaping from jail in the bloodiest possible way.

We then fast-forward to a lowly Llewlyn Moss, who stumbles across a drug deal gone bad.

This becomes the turning point in a story where we learn that even the most calculated choices can lead to the most harrowing consequences.

What follows are car chases, macabre murder scenes and insightful dialogue between the characters.

This is McCarthy's ninth book and it stays in tune with his themes of inner conflict and societal issues. His style is free-flowing, relying less on punctuation marks, especially in the dialogue.

So the reader never quite knows when he's reading speech or just the thoughts of the characters. You'd think that you'd get lost as you read, but instead it helps quicken the pace of the book.

No Country for Old Men was adapted into a film by the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, last year. The film won four Oscars at this year's ceremony, including Best Film, Best Director (for the brothers) and Best Supporting Actor for Javier Bardem.

Critics have praised the film for sticking close to the events in the book, so it will be a worthwhile excursion to see it in the cinema.

If you're looking to burn some time on a lazy Sunday, No Country for Old Men is a worthwhile read.