North Dallas After 40

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Peter Gent attempts a rather innovative approach in his latest offering. He combines a prequel and a sequel within a single volume. Thus the reader is treated to anecdotes and informational insight regarding Phil Elliott’s rookie year--the period before NORTH DALLAS 40--as well as the circumstances surrounding the twentieth anniversary of the team’s first championship.

At the close of NORTH DALLAS 40, Phil Elliot was forced off the Dallas team and out of professional football. To make ends meet, he, much in the fashion of his creator, wrote about professional football and became a best-selling author. Admittedly, he is still haunted by recurrent nightmares about Charlotte Caulder’s murder, but that is the least of his worries. On the one hand, his ex-wife Courtnay is hauling him into court on a weekly basis. Courtnay Elliot is part of a scheme devised by a group of devious, extremely corrupt financiers to “persuade” Elliot to sell his ranch. It seems that his ranch stands in the way of the completion of an extensive and lucrative real-estate development, and the progress of the Denham-Laughlin Group shall not be denied.

To further complicate matters, Denham-Laughlin are not just involved in various legitimate financial endeavors. In addition to exchanging guns for cocaine and generally intervening in Latin American politics, the scoundrels of D.L.G. propose to “capture” the government of the state of Texas. Once in control, the conspirators intend to implement a “final solution” with respect to illegal aliens that will flood the border with blood.

It is not necessary to read NORTH DALLAS FORTY before attempting this latest work by Gent, but it undoubtedly helps to be somewhat familiar with the characters. Unfortunately, many of those who read NORTH DALLAS FORTY were also exposed to the excellent film adaptation of the work. In consequence, the literary images Gent evokes are conditioned by the memory of the actors who portrayed his characters cinematically as well as the alterations made in the original story. Nevertheless, Gent has the regional accents and the spirit of the area down pat, and his progress through a rather complicated plot is as careful as movement through a swamp filled with quicksand.