“When a Harvard history professor receives a thesis paper titled Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus, from Ulysses Hercules Baxter-an underwhelming student-he assumes the paper must be a prank. He has never read such maniacal balderdash in his life. But after he calls a meeting with the student, Professor Gladstone is dismayed when Baxter declares the work is his own. As he takes a very unwilling Professor Gladstone back in time via his thesis, Baxter’s grade hangs in the balance as he attempts to prove his theory. It is 1864 as philanderer and crusader Captain Coytus embarks on a mission to avenge his father’s death and infiltrates the Confederate Bushwacker posse looking for the man responsible, Jesse Woodson James. Accompanied by the woman of his dreams, Coytus soon finds himself temporarily appointed to be the sheriff of Booneville and commissions his less-than-loyal deputy to help him carry out his plan. But when tragedy strikes, the Captain is forced to change his immature ways and redefine his lofty mission-more or less.”
This book is a (loosely) historical comedy fiction novel. If you like humour and satire, then this book will appeal to you. Captain Coytus, as per his namesake, is a bit of a ladies man, so this is not for the faint hearted, and definitely aimed at an adult market. A lot of different characters were introduced at the start of the book, which felt a bit confusing at times. It wasn’t until I was much further into the tale that they all started to gel together for me.
The book is approximately 470 pages in length, and it took me quite a few days to read. Which is unusual, as I normally race through a book, being an avid reader. Part of the problem for me was the amount of passive writing I encountered, as well as the sheer number of typos, and frequent occurrences of unusual phrasing. Another annoyance was that the characters never simply ‘said’ anything, but ‘gushed’ (chronically, and repeatedly), pontificated, commanded, pronounced, stated, reaffirmed, reassured, shot back, etc, etc. I also found it difficult to relate too closely to the main protagonist (The Captain) due to his ever ready humour, it tended to keep me (and I suspect any who would know him) at arm’s length. All of the characters’ actions spoke loudly and clearly, but more could have been given over to development. I didn’t see much in the way of experience, or emotion. This might not have been so obvious, had the POV not been told from his perspective throughout. The portrayal of The Professor was done rather well, I felt. Surprising, as much, much less space is given over to him–a tiny portion, in fact. The book alternated between the interactions of The Professor and The Student, and the so called Thesis of Jessie James and Captain Coytus. There was a lot of humour throughout the book, as well as some sad moments.
The book made me laugh at times, but I can’t say that I enjoyed it. I found it hard work. I felt pretty tired by the time I’d waded my way through to the end, rather like I’d been hit about the head with a wet cod. I might even go so far as to say I ended up in comedy overload. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a funny gal, but this was way too much, even for me. Sorry, I tried, really hard. I did. As it stands, I offer 3 out of 5 Stars. With revisions to the typos, passive writing, and ‘gushes’ I could see myself upgrading this to 4 Stars.