The Fourth Durango Summary
by Ross Thomas

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The Fourth Durango

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Jack Adair was accused of taking a bribe, but the evidence was only circumstantial. Still, in the course of the investigation it was revealed that Jack’s inattention to detail left him open to a charge of tax evasion. So, Jack Adair, former chief justice of a state supreme court, was sentenced to a term in a federal penitentiary. Meanwhile, his lawyer, and son-in-law, Kelly Vines was disbarred, his daughter lost her grip on reality and required hospitalization, while his son committed suicide by shooting himself with an automatic. Still, tragedy aside, Jack has a more pressing problem: Someone wants him dead, and he is not sure why.

In order to buy themselves some breathing space while preparing a plan to identify the source of the bounty put on Jack’s life, Jack and Kelly take refuge in Durango, California. Durango is no stranger to men trying to escape execution by former associates. In fact, in order to make civic ends meet, the mayor and the chief of police are in the habit of selling sanctuary--not for personal gain, it must be noted, but simply to alleviate the burden on the city’s perpetually shrinking tax base. Unfortunately, this tidy business arrangement runs afoul of a psychotic killer who has a series of scores to settle. Thus, within the span of a few days the town is stunned by a series of politically embarrassing murders. Someone better get busy, announces the mayor of Durango, or civic services will need to be drastically curtailed.

There is only one thing worse than not having a new Ross Thomas novel to read--and that is finishing the latest work from the mind of the celebrated and inventive author. Fortunately, Thomas has produced seventeen novels so far on an almost annual basis, and the aficionado can dip into the pile at random in the interval. THE FOURTH DURANGO may not be Thomas’ most original or most gripping work, but it is shot through with the touch of the master and will undoubtedly withstand additional and repeated scrutiny.