Unlike Zane Gray, Louis is a writer I have a long reading history with, and Last of the Breed is one of my personal favs. Every once in a while, I pull it down off the shelf and reread it.
First, the plot. Joe (Mack) MaKatozi is an American fighter pilot. His plane crashes under mysterious circumstances over the ocean and he’s rescued by a Russian trawler. He soon finds himself in a camp where people just ‘disappear.’ Everyone there is a from another country and they seem to have been abducted for information they might have. With the help of an Englishman, Mack manages to escape.
The ace up his sleeve is that he’s Native American, and was taught the old ways of the bow, hunting, and tracking. Knowing his ancestors crossed over into the Americas via the Bering Strait, he faces a long trek across Russia to get there. All along he’s being tracked by the Soviet Army, and in particular Alekhin, a Yakut.
Along the way, he meets people. Some help him, others try to hinder him. Some become friends and allies. It’s a story of simple survival and the way it’s written, it shows that technology isn’t always an asset in overcoming another person.
At the end, he and Alekhin meet. It’s a fight to the death, one that Mack wins. It ends when his captor receives a small package. It turns out to be the scalp of Alekin, and a note with a promise that Mack will return to collect his scalp one day.
As I said, it’s one of my favs.
Now, what I don’t like about it. It ends with a cliffhanger. That by itself is OK, except there is no follow up book. I’m left wondering if Mack was able to kayak across the strait to Alaska. Did he ever find the girl he’d helped get out of Russia? Did he ever return to get his second scalp?
Last of the Breed was the second to the last book L’Amour wrote. If he ever intended there to be a sequel, he passed away before finishing it.
It’s my hope that someplace, somewhere, a more or less finished manuscript for the sequel exists. That his estate finds it, finishes it, and releases it to the world.
If that ever happens, I’ll be first in line to buy a copy.