In this third installment of The Border Trilogy, McCarthy brings together John Grady Cole from Book I and Billy Parham from Book II as they work together on a ranch. Though neither delves too deeply into the tragedies in Mexico they both suffered, their unspoken experiences seem to bind them in ways they can’t understand.
A fitting conclusion to The Border Trilogy, McCarthy gives us the final fates of the two heroes we grew to love in previous volumes, and he does so in true McCarthy style. While the plot is fairly simple, the book is anything but. McCarthy once again offers dazzling asides that build characterization and encourages the reader to take ownership in Cole and Parham’s lives. The task of the savvy novelists is not only to tell a good story, but to draw the reader into the day-to-day existence of his characters so thoroughly that the reader forgets it’s fiction in which they’re vicariously taking part. McCarthy does just that with Cities of the Plain.
His deceptively complex tale is one that is concise yet expansive, beautiful yet mundane, noble yet tragic. Like life, it is all these things and more.