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The Death Shot A Story Retold   By: (1818-1883)

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The Death Shot, A Story Retold, by Captain Mayne Reid.

This was quite a difficult book to transcribe. There were the usual difficulties with this author his frequent use of words in Spanish, or the Mexican variety of Spanish, of words in French. In addition it must have been something of an experimental writing, for it is generally in the present tense, and there was frequent use made of new words that have not survived in the language. Much, indeed almost all, of the speech is uttered by uneducated persons, so that it needs perseverance, sometimes, to make out what is being said. Probably most of the speakers would not have been able to read, and would not have known how to pronounce the words they uttered. Added to all that the proof reading, particularly towards the end of the book, left much to be desired, quite common words having letters missing or all jumbled up. Finally, the copy used was in a bad way, not from over use, but from bad binding. It fell apart completely, and we had to continue the work on a scanner that can only read books that have been reduced to single pages.

We do not need to mention the problem usual with cheaply made books of that period, that punctuation marks, especially commas and full stops, and especially at the corners of the pages, tend to disappear, and some degree of cunning has to be brought to bear to recover them.

To illustrate the poor proof reading, one of the chapters was completely repeated, without any change in the flow of page numbers. This is something I have never before seen, though I have seen chapters completely omitted, without affecting the page numbers!

All that having been said, I would like to think that the author would have been pleased with our version, for certain it is that it is better than the published book, although it is certain there are still some errors in our text. It does make a very nice audiobook, taking almost fifteen hours to read. At the time of writing this I have heard it twice, and enjoyed it thoroughly.

After some thought I decided to replace his coy Victorian "G d", "H l", "D n" and "D d" with their intended words. Doubtless there are some who will not be happy with this, but this book was written 130 years ago, and times have changed.

It has been suggested that this book was entirely re written by the author, this being his final version. Although it is an unusual piece of writing it flows very well, and the author could well have been unhappy about the poor printing. Let us hope that he is looking down upon us with a gleam of pleasure in his eye.

As regards the subject matter, it is really very strange. There are murders with no body, murderers on the run with no evidence against them, murdered persons who are perfectly alive and well, Red Indians who are no such thing, a body which is buried and comes to life again, being dug up by a dog, and all the time against a truly beautiful description of the terrain, and a considerable tenderness towards the somewhat strange persons who form the cast of this unusual book.



Long time since this hand hath penned a preface. Now only to say, that this romance, as originally published, was written when the author was suffering severe affliction, both physically and mentally the result of a gun wound that brought him as near to death as Darke's bullet did Clancy.

It may be asked, Why under such strain was the tale written at all? A good reason could be given; but this, private and personal, need not, and should not be intruded on the public. Suffice it to say, that, dissatisfied with the execution of the work, the author has remodelled almost rewritten it.

It is the same story; but, as he hopes and believes, better told... Continue reading book >>

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