Coming four years after The Dawn Builder (1910), John G. Neihardt's second novel portrays the lives of Black Hills miners and of those who preyed on them. Life's Lure takes up a theme that runs throughout Neihardt's work: the consequences of an inordinate desire for wealth. The protagonists come in sets of three. On one hand there are Samuel Drake, a hapless thirty-year-old who has just squandered his inheritance in a Deadwood card game; his fickle wife Joy; and Louis Devlin, a smooth-talking, fast-fingered gentleman gambler. Devlin is not above talking about philosophy; he even paraphrases Nietzsche. On the other hand are Monte Joe, a drunken scoundrel, Punkins, a young man fresh off the farm, guileless and easy pickings; and Nellie, a mining-camp prostitute. Women and gold lure men to go on living, but Fortune is "a capricious jilt." Neihardt puts a lot of colorful characters in motion and then, along with the reader, watches them collide.
John G. Neihardt (1881-1973) had a long and distinguished career as a chronicler of the American West.
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