A transcendant novel that achieves what great art does; a universality of it's story and relevance no matter when or where. With Shane, The Searchers, The Lonesome Dove books and certainly much of Frank Norris and Cormac McCarthy's work, The Ox-Bow Incident stands as a testament to the power of a genre. I know there is more than these, but I am not a constant Western reader.
This is a compelling novel of hysteria, aggression, moral confusion, the Outlaw spirit, American masculine relationships and the folly of vengeance and vigilantism.
While other reviews may describe the story, I'd rather point out that it is a fairly simple one, simply presented and concluded. What stands out though is the characters and the depth to which Clark creates them. Sure there are standard cowboys, tough and grim-faced, but most of the characters suffer, whether in confusion, drunkeness, cold, moral despair, aimlessness, boredom or even arrogance, bullishness and myopia; territory I don't associate with Western lore/myth.
The lesson of The Ox-Bow Incident is timeless, and most important today, whether it be on a schoolyard, in gang territories, our criminal justice system itself or geo-politcs.