Spur Awards
2017
Off the Grid:
Book Jacket   C.J. Box
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Terrorists, libertarians, and wild cards duke it out in game warden Joe Pickett's Wyoming. Nate Romanowski, who doesn't like being called a homicidal libertarian folk hero even though the shoe fits like a glove, has been minding his own business, miles from civilization, when a phone call between his lover, Olivia Brannan, and her mother, who's dying in Louisiana, reveals his whereabouts to a pair of clean-cut sharpies calling themselves Brian Tyrell and Keith Volk. Unless Nate wants to stand trial along with Olivia for a gaggle of felonies he's accumulated over previous installments (Endangered, 2015, etc.), they tell him, he'd better sign on with the Wolverines, a group of disaffected government freelancers sick of federal rules and regulations, to make contact with a terrorist who's landed in the Red Desert. They hope the target, Muhammad Ibraaheem, will open up to Nate, who shares his anti-government idealism and his love of falconry. No sooner has Nate taken off to track down Ibby than outgoing Wyoming Gov. Spencer Rulon, apprised of his disappearance, persuades Nate's old friend, game warden Joe Pickett, to go hunting for him. Despite the obstacles, ranging from a highly irritated grizzly bear to the obligatory involvement of Joe's familythis time his daughter Sheridan, a college senior who decides to go camping at the worst possible time and placeNate soon locates and befriends Ibby, and Joe eventually finds Nate. Nothing else goes according to plan, mainly because Ibby's plans are more apocalyptic than Nate can imagine, and other parties turn out to be interested in the high-octane proceedings. Even though you just know Box isn't going to put an end to his highly successful franchise by blowing his lead characters to kingdom come, you can't help turning the pages and holding your breath until you find out where this scary, all-too-plausible caravan is heading. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2016
Crazy Mountain Kiss:
Book Jacket   Keith McCafferty
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A missing teen requires the special talents of Sean Stranahanfishing guide, watercolorist, former boxer, and occasional private eye (Dead Man's Fancy, 2014, etc.). Failed author Max Gallagher, who's renting a cabin in Montana's Crazy Mountains in the hope of writing a comeback novel, has trouble trying to get the chimney to draw. First a Santa Claus hat falls out, then he has to remove a crow's nest, and finally he finds an eyeless female corpse stuck inside. When Sheriff Martha Ettinger brings her team to investigate, she's not pleased to hear that Max is an acquaintance of her estranged lover Sean Stranahan. But, professional down to her booted feet, Martha's determined to focus only on the dead girl. The medical examiner doesn't see any signs of foul play, but he does note that the victim was five months pregnantand five months is how long Cinderella, the beautiful teenage daughter of former rodeo star Loretta Huntington, has been missing. Loretta's husband is wrapped up in his work as a consultant for a TV Western, and the grieving mother, who's already lost two children, is barely holding herself together. When she can no longer deny that the girl in the chimney is her daughter, she hires Stranahan to find out what happened. At first he's uncertain whether Cinderella planned to use the cabin as the Mile and a Half High Club, the scene of prearranged and anonymous assignations, or whether she'd run away from trouble at home and used the cabin as refuge. The more Stranahan tries to make sense of clues as disparate as a local Bigfoot, an old powder horn, and a clown tattoo, the more intricate the puzzle grows, until he discovers an astonishing work of art that he hopes will bring peace to the tortured Loretta. Stranahan's fourth case blends humor with heartbreak, all flavors of eccentricity with a struggle for normalcy, and a natural backdrop that can make even the most powerful humans and their deeds look small. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2015
Bad Country
 C.B. McKenzie
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A former Arizona rodeo star-turned-private eye takes on a plateful of cases that turn out to be different courses in the same criminal banquet. Rodeo Grace Garnet lives in the only habitable dwelling in the remnants of a planned community in an area called The Hole. Returning home with his old dog, he finds the body of a murdered Native American man. It's the start of a dizzyingly complicated and life-changing series of cases. Ray Molina, the sheriff of Los Jarros County, is a wealthy man with a thinly stretched department in a county whose vast empty areas provide an easy path for illegals and drug traffickers to enter the country. Ray's daughter, Sirena Rae, is a wild child Rodeo dumped after she shot his dog, though she still drops by to visit. Rodeo's friend Luis Azul Encarnacion, who owns the local trading post, sets him up to investigate the drive-by shooting of Samuel Rocha in Tucson. Samuel's grandmother wants to hire him to find the killer even though her whole family ignored Samuel in favor of his younger beauty-queen sister, who was killed in a hit-and-run. Probably the only person who did love Samuel is his lover, Ronald Rocha, a stone-cold killer and former special operations soldier whose erstwhile commanding officer is a wealthy man, a Tea Party candidate whose wife gets into the act by hiring Rodeo to find a missing manuscript after her brother dies of an overdose. Rocha threatens to kill Rodeo's dog and then Rodeo himself if he doesn't provide him with the name of Samuel's killer. As Rodeo slowly unravels a tangled mass of clues, he finds to his amazement that all these cases are interconnected. An outstanding first novel written with clarity and authority and featuring a Southwest whose spare beauty covers unspeakable crimes and a detective who's tough, honorable and authentic to the core. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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  Book Jacket
2014
Light of the World: A Dave Robicheaux Novel
 James Lee Burke
  Book Jacket
 
2013
Light of the world : a Dave Robicheaux novel
Book Jacket   James Lee Burke
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Dave Robicheaux's latest Montana vacation is beset by demons old and new. It's a long way from New Iberia, La., to Big Sky country, but some things never change, like the constant threat of violence from unknown quarters. Or not so unknown, since Dave's adopted daughter, Alafair, is sure that psycho rodeo cowboy Wyatt Dixon (In the Moon of Red Ponies, 2004, etc.) is the man who shot an arrow at her head. But Dave's not so sure: A growing pile of evidence suggests that the archer was Asa Surrette, the mass murderer Alafair interviewed years ago in a Kansas prison for a true-crime book she gave up writing in horrified disgust. Surrette, reported dead in a flaming car crash, gives every indication of being alive, active and as malevolent as ever. That spells major trouble for Dave, who's staying with novelist/teacher Albert Hollister; his old buddy Clete Purcel, who's falling for Felicity Louviere, the unhappy wife of Caspian Younger, whose fabulously wealthy daddy, Love, has a summer place nearby; Gretchen Horowitz, the contract killer last seen executing her gangster father in Creole Belle (2012); and of course Alafair, the ultimate target of Surrette's sadistic wrath. Series regulars will find no immunity from physical or spiritual maiming at the hands of Missoula County Sheriff's Deputy Bill Pepper, his replacement, Jack Boyd, or younger hireling Kyle Schumacher. Instead of simply absorbing threats and punishment, however, the good guys dish them out with a single-minded intensity that comes back to haunt them during the many reflective moments when they wonder what really separates them from the bad guys after all. Pruning away the florid subplots that often clutter his heaven-storming blood baths, Burke produces his most sharply focused, and perhaps his most harrowing, study of human evil, refracted through the conventions of the crime novel.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2012 (Western Short Novel)
Tuckers reckoning : a Ralph Compton novel
Book Jacket   by Matthew P Mayo
 
2012 (Western Long Novel)
The Coyote tracker
 Larry D Sweazy
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2012 (Original Mass Market Paperback)
With blood in their eyes
 Thomas Cobb
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2012 (Western Short Novel)
Legacy of a Lawman: A Western Story
Book Jacket   Johnny D. Boggs
2012 (Western Long Novel)
Remember Ben Clayton
Book Jacket   Stephen Harrigan
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A Texas rancher wants to commemorate his son, killed in World War I, by commissioning a statue, but we discover this public act covers up a failed relationship.Sculptor Francis "Gil" Gilheaney has had a checkered career. He moved to San Antonio shortly after completing a work honoring the heroes of the Alamo, but one of his recent works, The Pawnee Scout, has been destroyed by a drunken mob in Omaha. He's intrigued by an offer that comes to him from Lamar Clayton, owner of a vast tract of Texas range. While Lamar doesn't readily reveal his feelings, it's clear he's grieving for Ben, his only child, who died as a young soldier at St. Etienne on the Western Front. Gil takes the commission because of the challengeand perhaps because at the age of60 he has only one more great work in him. Accompanying him is his daughter Maureen, also a sculptor, now 32, unmarried and living in the shadow of her genius father. As Gil and Lamar get to know each other, hidden parts of their past begin to emerge. We learn, for example, that Lamar's parents had been killed by Comanches on the frontier, and for two years Lamar had been raised by the tribe. He's still suspicious of Jewell, his sister, whom the Comanches had sold to the Kiowa and who had tried to teach Ben "Indian ways," especially before his sojourn to France. We further learn that when he was part of the tribe, Lamar participated in atrocities that Ben found out about. Gil feels that to make a masterpiece he has to come to "know" Ben, and he even goes to the cemetery in France where Ben is buried. Although tempted to give up the commission altogether, Gil finally decides to complete the work.A heartening novel about art, war and the tug of family relationships.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2012 (Original Mass Market Paperback)
West Texas Kill
 Johnny D. Boggs
  Book Jacket
2011 (Western Short Novel)
Snowbound
 Richard S. Wheeler
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2011 (Western Long Novel)
Last Train from Cuernavaca
Book Jacket   Lucia St. Clair Robson
2011 (Original Mass Market Paperback)
Damnation Road
Book Jacket   Max McCoy
 
2010 (Western Short Novel)
Far Bright Star
 Robert Olmstead
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A veteran soldier battles for survival in another meditative, beautifully written novel from Olmstead (Coal Black Horse, 2007, etc.). The story begins in the summer of 1916, a few months after Pancho Villa's attack on Columbus, N.M. Officer Napoleon Childs has led a U.S. Army expedition deep into the Mexican desert in pursuit of this chimerical figure. The sun is punishing, the landscape is daunting and chasing the spookily elusive Villistas is beginning to show on Napoleon's men. Olmstead is wondrously attuned to the natural world and the realities of war; he uses sand, heat and distant mountains as a stage set, and his narrative unfolds with all the formal rigor of a Greek tragedy. The sense of pageantry is enhanced by the fact that while cavalrymen with rifles and bayonets pursue a bandoliered revolutionary in the Americas, a new kind of warfare is being invented in Europe. The futility of this particular mission, Napoleon is aware, mirrors the more general futility of a soldier's life, but he is sanguine about his vocation until his company loses a savage fight that never should have happened. Pulled from among the dead, he watches a fellow survivor tortured and killed by a band of rebels whose bloodthirsty female leader spares Napoleon so he can "tell the others what happened here." Now he must stay alive until his brother and their comrades can find him. The journey he takes recalls that of Coal Black Horse's protagonist, with the vital difference that Robey was young, while Napoleon is old. When Robey came home from the battlefields of the Civil War, he rejoined the deep, mysterious stream of life; he had hope and a future. For Napoleon, the return to life is a return to the past and, finally, a return to war. The spectacle Olmstead presents is not a pretty one, and its consolations are only for the strong and clear-minded. But the beauty and power of his prose will keep most readers from looking away. Brutal, tender and magnificent. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2010 (Western Long Novel)
Echoes of Glory
 Robert Flynn
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2010 (Original Mass Market Paperback)
Stranger in Thunder Basin
Book Jacket   John D. Nesbitt.
2009 (Western Short Novel)
Another mans moccasins
Book Jacket   Craig Johnson.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A decades-dead Vietnamese bar girl plays a starring role in a contemporary Wyoming murder investigation. Walt Longmire, Sheriff of Absaroka County, has been acting as rehab coach for his daughter Cady, an assault victim (Kindness Goes Unpunished, 2007). But he's called away to deal with a dead Vietnamese girl alongside the highway. The murder trail leads to a derelict Crow Indian by the name of Virgil White Buffalo, but the case is complicated when a tattered photograph found in the girl's pocket shows Walt and a young prostitute back in the 1960s. How did this girl come to have this picture? Flashbacks show Walt reliving his war experiences and relationships but hardly prepare him for the arrival of Tran Van Tuyen, who claims to be the dead girl's grandfather. Meanwhile, Virgil's in lockup, wolfing down pizzas at the county's expense. There are indications that Ho Thi Paquet, the dead girl, was here illegally, perhaps a "dust child," the offspring of an American GI and a Vietnamese woman, and that another girl was traveling with her before she died. The sad resolution will do little to heal Asian/American tragedies past and current. The back story, with its venality, racism and murder, is riveting, and Johnson dovetails Walt's life then and now with great skill. Readers who've come to admire Walt's cohort, Henry Standing Bear, will want to award him the Medal of Honor for his war exploits. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2009 (Western Long Novel)
Shavetail : a novel
 Thomas Cobb.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A stubborn young man with a checkered past tries to find his path at a U.S. Army base in the Arizona frontier. Tucson is a dangerous place in 1871, brimming with thieves, whores and daily brawls among the Apache, entrepreneurial trailblazers and drunken U.S. soldiers. Nearby at Camp Bowie, Ned Thorne, the educated 17-year-old son of a Hartford shopkeeper, doesn't quite fit in. Clearly running away from something, which he achingly alludes to in unfinished letters to his brother, Ned both fears and uses his violent temper, hoping it will prove his manhood to his elders, particularly his partner, a conniving man named Brickner. Ned becomes the assistant to the captain, and they form a tentative bond, finally revealing that Ned's shame came from his brother's accidental death, for which he has taken responsibility. Tragedy strikes when Apaches invade a nearby ranch, killing two men and kidnapping a woman. Upon investigation, Ned's illiterate bunkmate steals the woman's journal and bequeaths it to Ned, who quickly becomes engrossed in her story. Like Ned, the woman had fled her New England home, though the frontier was not what she expected—her betrothed died en route, and she became stuck in a loveless marriage to an Arizona rancher. Both the journal and a series of bloody squabbles with the Apache lead to an impromptu mission to save the woman, which takes the men into unchartered territory, results in a bloodbath and tests young Ned's fortitude. After building suspense, the author abruptly abandons both his hero and his reader in the aftermath of battle. Nonetheless, Cobb, in his first novel since his debut (Crazy Heart, 1987), ably recreates the American frontier. Tender and action-packed, a historical western with everything but the ending. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2009 (Original Mass Market Paperback)
Trouble at the Redstone
 John D. Nesbitt.
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2009 (First Novel)
Gods thunderbolt : the vigilantes of Montana
Book Jacket   by Carol Buchanan.
2008 (Western Nonfiction Biography)
Frontiersman: Daniel Boone and the Making of America
Book Jacket   Meredith Mason Brown
 
2008 (Western Novel)
The God of Animals
 Aryn Kyle
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2009 (Western Nonfiction Historical)
Hunting the American West : the pursuit of big game for life, profit, and sport from 1800-1900
 Richard C. Rattenbury ; foreword by E. Norman Flayderman.
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2009 (Western Nonfiction Contemporary)
Full-court quest : the girls from Fort Shaw Indian School, basketball champions of the world
Book Jacket   Linda Peavy ; Ursula Smith.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Another fascinating tale of fortitude and passion from the longtime women's history partnership of Peavy and Smith (Frontier Children, 1999, etc.). Here the authors look back to the turn of the 20th century to chronicle and contextualize the lives of some of the first basketball players to gain national attention: the ten "aboriginal maidens" from Fort Shaw Government Indian Boarding School in Sun River Valley, Mont. Opening its doors in 1892, the nation's 14th off-reservation boarding school brought together from seven tribes in communities and reservations across Montana and Idaho ten young women who would so excel at a sport invented only the year before that they would go on to be crowned basketball champions of the world at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. The authors painstakingly trace the backgrounds of the various players, showing how many came from broken homes to cohere as a team both on the court and when put on display as exemplars of the federal government's educational aim to "kill the Indian [to] save the man." Particularly in St. Louis, where the girls resided and performed for five months as living exhibits at the fair's Model Indian School, which attracted some 30,000 visitors a day, they constantly straddled the difficult divide between defying and meeting the expectations of others. The authors hasten to point out the irony (and brevity) of their unique situation: "Even as the girls were center court and center stage in St. Louis, the Indian School Service was setting in motion sweeping changes that emphasized domestic and manual training to the exclusion of the very academic, artistic, and athletic programs that had been at the heart of a Fort Shaw education." Meticulous, moving account of how basketball helped shape the lives of ten American Indian women at the dawn of the 20th century. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2009 (Juvenile Fiction)
I am Apache
Book Jacket   Tanya Landman.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. This absorbing tale of a teenage Apache girl who becomes a warrior comes to readers from a British author fascinated by the subject. Landman did her historical homework well, her research including both primary and secondary resources and enabling her to tell the story not only of her protagonist, Siki, but also of the ultimately futile struggles of the Apache to save their homeland from encroaching invaders. She witnesses the deaths of nearly her whole family at the hands of Mexicans and vows revenge. More talented with weaponry than women's work, she enters training as a warrior and is accepted by most, but not all, of her male companions. The lively narrative is peppered with action scenes, all loosely based on historical events, and with Siki's speculations about her missing father. Her clairvoyant experiences become a vehicle for exploring the Apaches' religious beliefs. Constantly engrossing, this offering will engage young readers in a way no textbook can. (historical note, bibliography) (Historical fiction. YA) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2009 (Juvenile Nonfiction)
The trial of Standing Bear
 by Frank Keating, Paintings by Mike Wimmer.
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2009 (Storyteller Award)
The wheat doll
 Alison L. Randall ; illustrated by Bill Farnsworth.
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2008 (Nonfiction Contemporary)
Lone Star Lawmen: The Second Century of the Texas Rangers
Book Jacket   Robert M. Utley
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A continuation of the author's Lone Star Justice (2001), bringing the tale of the renowned—and sometimes infamous—Texas Rangers to the present. Founded to battle Comanches and other Indians on the open range, the unit that ranks among the world's best-known police detachments became not very particular about its targets along about the time of the Mexican Revolution, when this sequel gathers steam. The decade of the revolution (1910–20) is, writes Utley, "the blackest period in the history of the Texas Rangers"; so vigorous were the special agents in keeping the border under Anglo control that police murders of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans were common. One Army scout reported, for instance, finding the bodies of ten Mexicans hanging alongside a road, each with a bullet in the forehead, which one former Ranger called the brand of the unit in a process known along the borderlands as "evaporation." Utley condemns the Rangers of the time for undermining rather than upholding the law, proceeding to a period in which the governor commissioned Rangers to "carry a gun and arrest law-breakers, such as editors, executives, and bankers" who dared oppose his enlightened rule. In time, conditions changed, giving credence to the thought that good politics make for good police. Usually few in number, the Rangers dwindled into the Depression, when constant bank robberies gave them new opportunities to fan their six-shooters. In the modern era, they had to adjust to conditions, admitting women into the unit (none too successfully); attending to strange confrontations with the Branch Davidians (more successfully than did federal authorities) and right-wing militias; and recruiting minority officers none too enthusiastically. On that note, it is something of an irony, given the Rangers' Latino-hating tendencies of old, that Utley considers the best of the best Rangers to have been one Manuel Gonzaullas, whom he deems an "exemplary leader." A valuable addition to the library of Texana. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2008 (Young Readers)
Doubtful Canon
Book Jacket   Johnny D. Boggs
 
2007 (Western Novel)
The Night Journal
 Elizabeth Crook
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2007 (Nonfiction Contemporary)
Copper Chorus: Mining, Politics and the Montana press
 Dennis L. Swibold
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2007 (Young Readers)
Geronimo
Book Jacket   Joseph Bruchac
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780439353601 In this historical novel, Geronimo's adopted grandson tells the story of the heroic Chiricahua Apache warrior and medicine man who resisted U.S. government encroachment. The story is dense with historical facts (not always smoothly integrated in the narrative), but there is enough adventure and excitement to keep readers interested and engaged. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. "You will remember it all," Geronimo says to his grandson at Fort Sill, Okla., in 1908. Imprisoned there, Geronimo is at the end of his long life, and Willie is to remember and tell Geronimo's story: the prison trains and the forced moves, betrayals by the White Eyes, fighting against Mexican and American soldiers, removal of the Apaches from the Southwest to Florida and Geronimo's ride in Theodore Roosevelt's inaugural parade. But for Willie to narrate the tale is limiting, distancing the reader and sometimes making Geronimo himself seem peripheral to Willie's own story; any potential drama is sapped from the narrative. It's a story told rather than brought to the great, dramatic life it could have lived on the page. Also, since the heart of the narrative is the journey to Florida, maps would have helped readers follow the trek. Overall, though, this is an important, carefully researched work that will fill a gap in most collections. (afterword, chronology, bibliography, acknowledgments) (Fiction. 12+) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2006 (Western Novel - tie)
Camp Ford: A Western Story
Book Jacket   Johnny D. Boggs
 
2006 (Western Novel - tie)
The Undertakers Wife
 Loren D. Estleman
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Master stylist and storyteller Estleman, who writes mainly about professionals like himself, offers a gilded companion to The Master Executioner (2001). The protagonist of that previous volume was a hangman; here, the expert is an undertaker. Three months before the turn of the 20th century, famed capitalist Elihu Warrick has shot himself in the head in his first-class stateroom on the Michigan Central railroad. To save the market, five colossal stockbrokers in New York decide that Warrick's suicide must be passed off as a natural death, with his open casket on display. They call in Richard Connable, retired master of the Dismal Trade and artist of the Connable Method for preparing bodies for burial. He leaves at once from his home in Buffalo to claim the cadaver in Cleveland. Meanwhile, Richard's badly run-down wife, Lucy, thinks of her spouse as "elephantiastically unobservant." Lucy too has washed and painted corpses; now she's afraid her own skull shows through as she goes to Richard's old funeral parlor to choose her casket while he's away. Her thoughts turn to their past. During the Civil War, young Richard, at the time an apprentice to his undertaker father, restored for burial Lucy's dead brother's ruined head. He and Lucy married, moved to San Francisco, built and opened a funeral parlor. Driven out of town by a crooked colonel, they moved with daughter Victoria to Fort Hays, Kan., where Sheriff Wild Bill Hickok resolved a problem for Richard with the four Rooneys' cheapo mortuary. Spiritual events drive the Connables to many towns before settling down in Buffalo. But tragic moments have already come, more strongly than the reader foresees. Tons of absorbing scenes of embalming and cosmetic restoration—but no ghastly Wisconsin Death Trip. (Winner of The Kirkus Award for Hand-Carved Walnut Historical Prose 2005.) . Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2006 (Novel of the West)
High Country: A Novel
 Willard Wyman
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2006 (Young Readers)
Black Storm Comin
Book Jacket   Diane Lee Wilson
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780689871375 His biracial heritage is among the obstacles twelve-year-old Colton faces as he and his family travel west in 1860. When his family fails to reach California before winter, Colton joins the Pony Express to pay his mother's medical bills; to do this, he must ""pass"" as white amid growing racial and political turmoil. A fast pace brings this slice of history to life. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. On the eve of the Civil War, Colton Wescott is "a boy with a foot in each of two worlds—the black and the white, the slave and the free, the East and the West." On his way west by wagon train, Colton is shot by his father who disappears, and the family eventually stalls before making it to California. But Colton sees a poster advertising for Pony Express riders and sees a chance to become a man in his father's place. He'll relay freedom papers from his mother to her sister in Sacramento and carry an important message from Washington about a plot to blow up forts and steal ammunition in an attempt to support the South in the coming war. Driving the historic Pony Express route, visiting museums and bookstores and reading journals, letters and obituaries, Wilson has done the research to make the story alive and immediate. An exciting story written with style. (map, author's note) (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2005 (Western Novel)
Buy the Chief a Cadillac
Book Jacket   Rick Steber
 
2005 (Novel of the West)
People of the Raven
 Michael Gear
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2005 (Young Readers)
Fire in the Hole
 Mary Cronk Farrell
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780618446346 In 1899, Mick doesn't plan on being a silver miner like his father, but he gets caught up, against his will, in the violent standoff between his father's union and Idaho's Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mining Company. Despite mostly stock characters, the gritty saga, inspired by real events, compels readers to care about Mick and the other unjustly imprisoned union members and sympathizers. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
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2004 (Western Novel)
I Should Be Extremely Happy In Your Company
Book Jacket   Brian Hall
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780670031894 Travel writer and novelist Hall (The Saskiad, 1997, etc.) expertly deploys his combined skills in a long look at the long travels of Lewis and Clark. Carefully offloading two centuries of cultural baggage, including the great weights of Thomas Jefferson and Sacajawea, Hall brings the young republic's great explorers and their co-travelers to unsettled life. Greatest attention goes to Jefferson's prickly young secretary Meriwether Lewis. Plagued by depression and by his self-centered, frequently widowed mother, Lewis would be no one's choice today to lead a vital national mission. The better-balanced, more cheerful William Clark, soldier brother to a revolutionary hero, would seem to have had the righter stuff. But it was Virginia-born Lewis who was at the president's elbow when Jefferson shelled out for a quarter of a continent. And Lewis was not your usual clerk. Fiercely intelligent, he had absorbed as much as possible from an abbreviated education, and he had exercised his abilities like a soldier. Clark was, indeed, Lewis's old army buddy, and it was that friendship that brought the frontier Louisvillian to his great adventure and national fame. Unraveling his narrative from varied viewpoints-those of the two young explorers, the teenaged Shoshone woman who accompanied them, her aging French Canadian husband/owner, and, ultimately, Clark's long-suffering slave, York-Hall draws on reams of historic documents and makes wonderfully real both the rackety, rash quality of the president's personal project and the unsettled inner lives of the explorers. Dragging a presidentially designed folding iron, swapping cheap trinkets with constantly changing Indian tribes, eating dogs, navigating by the heavens, the casual directions of the natives, and their own best guesses, journalizing in their different styles, the two captains do what should have been impossible: winning national fame and national jobs. Clark's natural buoyancy supports him to the end; Lewis's personal demons drag him to an early death. Hall takes the greatest risks with Sacajawea, realizing her thoughts in dense passages that, even so, when carefully followed, make the neolithic Shoshone world palpable. Not easy, but a serious, ambitious, complex and greatly worthwhile book. Just like the trip.
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2004 (Novel of the West)
So Wild A Dream
Book Jacket   Win Blevins
 
2004 (Young Readers)
In The Eye of the Storm: The Adventures of Young Buffalo Bill
 Cody Kimmel
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780060291167 Now settled in the Kansas Territory, the Cody family meets with harassment and violence due to their abolitionist beliefs. After Pa+s death, Bill joins a wagon train as an assistant and encounters Wild Bill Hickok. Each book's afterword explains which of the colorfully portrayed episodes in these old-fashioned western stories are based on fact. Occasional pencil sketches illustrate the books. [Review covers these Adventures of Young Buffalo Bill titles: In the Eye of the Storm, One Sky above Us, and West on the Wagon Train.] (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
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2003 (Western Novel)
The Chili Queen
 Sandra Dallas
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780312303495 Varmints and vixens . . . way out west, circa the 1880s. Addie French was famous for making the best chili in New Mexico before she moved to dusty little Nalgitas and opened a bordello called the Chili Queen. Keeping all those cowboys and miners happy with only three or four whores ain't easy, and she even takes on a few customers herself now and then. Her only help is a powerfully built black woman who goes by the odd name of "Welcome," since no one else wants to cook and clean for temperamental prostitutes. But Addie makes enough money to get by and takes her own pleasure with Ned, who's hiding out at the Chili Queen after several lucrative bank robberies. Addie takes in homely mail-order bride Emma, who was abandoned by Addie's priggish brother John and left at the depot by the man who was supposed to claim her. She treats Emma as an honored guest, thinking of making her a milliner, since she sews a fine seam. She's nonplussed, however, when Ned takes a shine to the lonely woman. The three cook up a land-buying scheme to fleece Emma's brother, but John insists on two conditions: he'll return to see the land for himself, and he'll put up only half the purchase price. By now Ned is in love with Emma, who has a magical way of looking pretty when she wants to. He plans another robbery to come up with the other half and swindle John-not realizing he's already being taken by a pair of bunco artists. Once the double-crossing begins, it doesn't stop, but even Addie doesn't realize that Welcome is in on the scam as well. Interwoven are the tragic stories of Emma, John, Welcome, and Ned-providing a look at the darker history of the Old West. Dallas's sixth (after Alice's Tulips, 2000, etc.) is as satisfying as a John Ford movie, with just the right touches of humor and period detail.
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2003 (Novel of the West)
Perma Red
Book Jacket   Debra Magpie Earling
2003 (Young Readers)
The Big Burn
Book Jacket   Jeanette Ingold
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780152164706 Born of sparks from trains, the working fires of homesteaders and miners, the campfires of hoboes, and lightning coursing down from the summer sky, the fires joined as a wall of flame, an "orange hell" that consumed two-and-a-half-million acres of public forest land by the time it was done. It was called the Big Burn, and "August 20, 1910, would be remembered as the day the mountains roared." Ingold (Airfield, 1999, etc.) develops the stories of three teens involved in and affected by the drama of the raging fires. Their narratives are leisurely developed, and it is almost two-thirds of the way into the long novel before the pace of their stories escalates to parallel the rise of the fire itself. Jarrett, the brother of the forest ranger, Lizbeth, the homesteader determined to keep her land, and Seth, the enlisted man in the all-black Twenty-fifth Infantry hoping to find and prove his courage, are the three characters whose lives intertwine in the face of a natural disaster. When the fires finally join and the story picks up its pace, an exciting tale ensues. The air turns orange, the gale-force winds rage, trees tumble through the air like sticks, and the roar of the fire bounces off of the canyon walls as the fire sweeps through Idaho and into Montana. Readers with a taste for sprawling tales will find their efforts rewarded. An afterword by the author and suggestions for further reading will inform readers more about this spectacular but little-known event in American history. (Fiction. 12-15)
Horn Book (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780152164706 The paths of three teenagers--young ranger Jarrett, homesteader Lizbeth, and African-American soldier Seth--intersect as a wildfire blazes across the western United States in the summer of 1910. This historical novel presents a vivid picture of a natural disaster while skillfully conveying in fluid prose the individual stories of the three young people and the romance between Jarrett and Lizbeth. Bib. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780152164706 Born of sparks from trains, the working fires of homesteaders and miners, the campfires of hoboes, and lightning coursing down from the summer sky, the fires joined as a wall of flame, an "orange hell" that consumed two-and-a-half-million acres of public forest land by the time it was done. It was called the Big Burn, and "August 20, 1910, would be remembered as the day the mountains roared." Ingold (Airfield, 1999, etc.) develops the stories of three teens involved in and affected by the drama of the raging fires. Their narratives are leisurely developed, and it is almost two-thirds of the way into the long novel before the pace of their stories escalates to parallel the rise of the fire itself. Jarrett, the brother of the forest ranger, Lizbeth, the homesteader determined to keep her land, and Seth, the enlisted man in the all-black Twenty-fifth Infantry hoping to find and prove his courage, are the three characters whose lives intertwine in the face of a natural disaster. When the fires finally join and the story picks up its pace, an exciting tale ensues. The air turns orange, the gale-force winds rage, trees tumble through the air like sticks, and the roar of the fire bounces off of the canyon walls as the fire sweeps through Idaho and into Montana. Readers with a taste for sprawling tales will find their efforts rewarded. An afterword by the author and suggestions for further reading will inform readers more about this spectacular but little-known event in American history. (Fiction. 12-15)
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780152164706 The paths of three teenagers--young ranger Jarrett, homesteader Lizbeth, and African-American soldier Seth--intersect as a wildfire blazes across the western United States in the summer of 1910. This historical novel presents a vivid picture of a natural disaster while skillfully conveying in fluid prose the individual stories of the three young people and the romance between Jarrett and Lizbeth. Bib. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
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2002 (Best Western)
The Way of the Coyote
 Elmer Kelton
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780312873189 With 40 novels in his gunbelt, Kelton has been named "The Greatest Western Writer of All Time" by the Western Writers of America. In this outing, Rusty Shannon returns in the third installment in his Texas Rangers series (The Bucksin Line, 1999; Badger Boy, 2001). When the federal government moves into Texas and takes over, following the Civil War, Shannon falls into a briar patch of Kelton plotting that includes raids by the Ku Klux Klan, the loss of his homestead to killers from his past, playing big brother to almost-grown Badger Boy Andy Pickard, saving ranchers from marauding Indians (in his youth, the Commanches killed his original family, his foster father, and held him captive, and Andy himself has only recently escaped being a captive of that tribe). Rusty tries to settle back into his old life as a farmer-but it's not to be. What's more, he's suffering from an arrow wound in his leg. Meanwhile, he joins some lawmen chasing Indians, clansmen, and whiskey runners. As the dust settles, will bad Clyde Oldham sign Rusty's farm back to him? May Kelton's rangers ride on many a long mile.
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  Book Jacket
2002 (Novel of the West)
The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint
 Brady Udall
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780393020366 A picaresque, coming-of-ager by Udall (stories: Letting Loose the Hounds, 1997) invokes nearly every archetype of the genre while still managing to be fresh and vigorous, and unveiling a rarely seen slice of American life in the process. Edgar?s Apache mother had her first drink the day she gave birth to him, on an Arizona reservation, and was never again sober. And his white father split seven months before. So life?s looking pretty bleak until the now-seven-year-old gets his head run over by the mailman?s jeep, surviving the first in a series of miracles. When he wakes up three months later, he?s not just gaining consciousness?little Edgar is being born into a whole new life. St. Divine?s Hospital, with its infrequent attention and even more infrequent love, provides Edgar with a family that?s a huge improvement over his biological one. With echoes of Dickens, Edgar meets the stock characters who will reappear throughout his life. It can take a bit to get accustomed to the unique, alternating voices?an intimate, poignant, humorous first-person and a well-paced third?but, ultimately, it?s wonderfully successful. From the hospital, Edgar is shipped to the William Tecumseh Sherman School, a Native American reformatory sure to rival any fictional institution for cruelty and deprivation. Despite this, though, the boy never quite loses the comic edge that lends his story its buoyancy. Edgar eventually manages to get placed with a Mormon family?on loan from some John Irving tale?complete with a genius stepbrother, a sexy stepsister, and an adulterous stepmom. Somewhere along the way he?s decided that his life mission is to find that mailman in the jeep who was the prime mover behind all this: he wants to let the guy know he?s just fine. This quest, which sends the teenaged Edgar from Utah across the country, leads to a close as unexpected as it is heartbreaking. A remarkably assured debut novel that brings to life a unique world, tells its story with skill, and remains enthralling throughout. A bit of a miracle in its own right.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780393020366 A picaresque, coming-of-ager by Udall (stories: Letting Loose the Hounds, 1997) invokes nearly every archetype of the genre while still managing to be fresh and vigorous, and unveiling a rarely seen slice of American life in the process. Edgar?s Apache mother had her first drink the day she gave birth to him, on an Arizona reservation, and was never again sober. And his white father split seven months before. So life?s looking pretty bleak until the now-seven-year-old gets his head run over by the mailman?s jeep, surviving the first in a series of miracles. When he wakes up three months later, he?s not just gaining consciousness?little Edgar is being born into a whole new life. St. Divine?s Hospital, with its infrequent attention and even more infrequent love, provides Edgar with a family that?s a huge improvement over his biological one. With echoes of Dickens, Edgar meets the stock characters who will reappear throughout his life. It can take a bit to get accustomed to the unique, alternating voices?an intimate, poignant, humorous first-person and a well-paced third?but, ultimately, it?s wonderfully successful. From the hospital, Edgar is shipped to the William Tecumseh Sherman School, a Native American reformatory sure to rival any fictional institution for cruelty and deprivation. Despite this, though, the boy never quite loses the comic edge that lends his story its buoyancy. Edgar eventually manages to get placed with a Mormon family?on loan from some John Irving tale?complete with a genius stepbrother, a sexy stepsister, and an adulterous stepmom. Somewhere along the way he?s decided that his life mission is to find that mailman in the jeep who was the prime mover behind all this: he wants to let the guy know he?s just fine. This quest, which sends the teenaged Edgar from Utah across the country, leads to a close as unexpected as it is heartbreaking. A remarkably assured debut novel that brings to life a unique world, tells its story with skill, and remains enthralling throughout. A bit of a miracle in its own right.
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2002 (Best Juvenile)
Rockbuster
Book Jacket   Gloria Skurzynski,
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780689839917 A mine worker like his relatives, ten-year-old Tommy soon discovers he has a natural gift for song writing. His talent leads to his involvement on a larger scale with the union leaders and an ultimate decision about where his loyalties lie. Although historically interesting, the book is laboriously written and Tommy?s feelings and pivotal events are related impersonally. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780689839917 Eighteen-year-old Tommy Quinlan is riding the train from Salt Lake City to Chicago for the funeral of Joe Hill. The smells, noise, and movement bring back memories of a train ride eight years earlier with his uncle, a coal mining union activist. The two were on their way to Idaho for the murder trial of Big Bill Haywood and hidden inside a cigar box was one thousand dollars for the defense fund. Tommy feels guilty when Pinkerton detectives drag his uncle from the train and murder him, but he does manage to deliver the money. Back home in his small mining town, Tommy starts to work the mines to help support his widowed mother and discovers a gift for the guitar, honing his skills in the underground blackness. As the years pass, his work grows more dangerous, but his gift for making up lyrics to popular tunes and playing in saloons helps bring in money. Almost predictably, he falls in love with a girl from the other side of the tracks, actually the daughter of the man who owns the mine. Their romance is difficult, carried out in secrecy and over long distances. When Tommy is urged to sing the union's cause and carry forward the work of Joe Hill, he harbors doubts about the direction of his life. Ultimately, he decides that he must be his own man and not give up the girl he loves. He will use his gift of word making as a lawyer and advance the cause of labor in that manner. Skurzynski (Ghost Horses, 2000, etc.) presents a good picture of the horrors of life in the pre-WWI western coal mines. However, in spite of Tommy's meetings with Haywood and Hill, they remain somewhat distant and sketchy characters. The ongoing courtship of his mother by a miner and the difficulties of his own romance often slow down the pace of the narration and the storytelling lacks the strength and power of its subject. (Fiction. YA)
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2001 (Western Novel)
Summer of Pearls
Book Jacket   Mike Blakley
 
2001 (Novel of the West)
The Gates of the Alamo
 Stephen Harrigan
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780679447177 selection)
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  Book Jacket
2001 (Best Juvenile)
The Midnight Train Home
 Erika Tamar
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Tamar (Alphabet City Ballet, 1996, etc.) has fashioned a rich narrative around the little-known but remarkable historical phenomenon of the orphan train. The novel opens more than 150 years ago on a train leaving the poverty-stricken tenements of New York City. Three immigrant siblings: Sean the oldest at 13, Deirdre, 11, and Jimmy, 3—have been given away by their destitute, homeless mother. The Children's Aid Society gathers up the three—who, along with dozens of other "orphaned" children, board a train that stops intermittently in rural towns where they are displayed to prospective adoptive parents. Jimmy is the first to be chosen, prompting the devastating realization that they will all be separated. A well-meaning but distant reverend and his cold wife take in Deirdre, who is pegged as an outcast and a charity case within the new and unfriendly community. Terribly lonely and unhappy, she is desperate to find her brothers, so when she finally receives word from Sean, she is determined to follow him to Texas. When a vaudeville show stops in town, she recognizes her chance to get out. Within this group of talented misfits, Deirdre discovers a new kind of family and an outlet for her stunning singing voice. When the act finally arrives in Texas and she is reunited with Sean, Deirdre realizes that she must choose for herself where she belongs. A compelling journey into the past with engaging characters, this story manages to avoid sentimentality, and yet still pulls the heartstrings. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780375801594 The orphan train takes Deirdre O'Rourke to a childless minister and his humorless wife, who feed the girl but offer her little else. A talented singer, Deirdre joins a vaudeville troupe and eventually finds her way to Texas and to her brother. His placement--a happy farm situation--would welcome her as well, but Tamar has more satisfying, if somewhat theatrical, plans for the stage-struck girl. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Tamar (Alphabet City Ballet, 1996, etc.) has fashioned a rich narrative around the little-known but remarkable historical phenomenon of the orphan train. The novel opens more than 150 years ago on a train leaving the poverty-stricken tenements of New York City. Three immigrant siblings: Sean the oldest at 13, Deirdre, 11, and Jimmy, 3—have been given away by their destitute, homeless mother. The Children's Aid Society gathers up the three—who, along with dozens of other "orphaned" children, board a train that stops intermittently in rural towns where they are displayed to prospective adoptive parents. Jimmy is the first to be chosen, prompting the devastating realization that they will all be separated. A well-meaning but distant reverend and his cold wife take in Deirdre, who is pegged as an outcast and a charity case within the new and unfriendly community. Terribly lonely and unhappy, she is desperate to find her brothers, so when she finally receives word from Sean, she is determined to follow him to Texas. When a vaudeville show stops in town, she recognizes her chance to get out. Within this group of talented misfits, Deirdre discovers a new kind of family and an outlet for her stunning singing voice. When the act finally arrives in Texas and she is reunited with Sean, Deirdre realizes that she must choose for herself where she belongs. A compelling journey into the past with engaging characters, this story manages to avoid sentimentality, and yet still pulls the heartstrings. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2000 (Western Novel)
Masterson
Book Jacket   Richard S. Wheeler
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780312870478 Keeping Wheeler's printing history straight is not easy, since in a 12-month period he's published Dark Passage, Aftershocks, Sun Mountain (p. 487), Flint's Honor (p. 754) and now Masterson, for a grand total of sharply realistic novels that goes through the roof. This is all good news, however, since Wheeler is among the two or three top living writers of western historicals'if not the best, provided you don't count strong stylist Loren Estleman (see p. TKTK). Some of the works on Wheeler's crammed publishing schedule, we've been told, were written earlier but had to wait for print. In 1921, celebrated ex-lawman Bartholomew ``Bat'' Masterson is writing a column for New York's Morning Telegraph when he's interviewed by Louella Parsons and Damon Runyon about his notorious past. (Runyon later re-immortalizes him as Sky Masterson in the short story that became Guys and Dolls.) ``Have you killed twenty-six men? Have you been charged with first-degree murder four times? Did you shoot down seven cowboys and bring their heads in a sack back to Dodge City? Have you owned cathouses?'' Louella asks. His life, by now outrageously overblown by Ned Buntline for dime novels, so turns Bat's stomach that he decides to travel with his wife Emma to the old towns where the stories began and straighten out his own history. Strong on character, and as factual as possible, of course, as it moves smartly along, although wife Emma, about whom little is known, is largely a device for exposition.
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2000 (Novel of the West)
Prophet Annie
Book Jacket   Ellen Recknor
 
2000 (Best Juvenile)
Wrango
 Brian Burks
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780152018153 From Burks (Walks Alone, 1998, etc.), the fact-based story of an ex-slave turned cowboy; the historical details are riveting but the characterizations and plotting are not. George McJunkin, a teenager recently freed from slavery, and trained to ride horses and rope by Senor Valarde, joins a cattle drive from Comanche, Texas, to Abilene, Kansas. Along the way he encounters prejudice, saves the life of one of his fellow drivers, is bitten by a rattlesnake, sees a lynching, begins to learn to read, and survives storm, stampede, and possibly hostile Indians to win the respect of his boss and crew. The particulars of life on the trail and the hardships of the job are fascinating; Burks paints a vivid picture of the tension, adventure, and tedium that are all part of the cowboy's lot. The motives ascribed to the characters, however, don't always make sense. Senor Valarde threatens to quit unless the trail boss, who already has a full crew, hires George; the trail boss not only has no hard feelings, but then fires the wrangler'or wrango'for drunkenness and gives the inexperienced George the job. A mean-spirited bigot, Charley, becomes abruptly faithful and kind after George saves his life, just one of the several instances in which the veracity in the setting and details is not matched by credible characters or plotting. (b&w photos, map, glossary, bibliography) (Fiction. 11-13)
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780152018153 The youth of George McJunkin, a real-life African-American cowboy, is fictionalized in a novel that follows the teen as he leaves his home in post-Civil War Texas and joins a cattle drive. The writing is smooth, but the episodic story is predictable and doesn't offer much beyond the usual elements of the genre--a rattlesnake bite, a dangerous river crossing, and confrontations with horse thieves and Native Americans. Bib., glos. Reviewed by: pds (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
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1999 (Western Novel)
Journey of the Dead
 Loren Estleman
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. As he shows here once more, the prolific Estleman (Billy Gashade, 1997, etc.) has no rival--not even Louis L'Amour--in evoking the American Southwest. With hard-robbed dialogue as bright as a new-minted Indian-head penny, this latest epic is narrated by the alchemist Francisco de la Zaragoza, Viceroy in Absentia, Durango, Mexico--who just happens to be 129 years old. The viceroy's tale chronicles the life of his sometime friend and yam-swapper Sheriff Pat Garrett, who killed Billy Bonney, better known as Billy the Kid. The book's title is taken from La Jomada del Muerto, a long, sun-hammered passage of white sand trickling through the New Mexico desert like an alchemist's athanor, where the blood bubbles and human clay might perhaps mm to gold if the spirit were pure enough. Despite that, the invincible Pat Garrett's whole life could be viewed as a kind of sun-baked torture relieved only by whiskey, the warm Spanish blood of his wife Apolinaria, and his six children, while many of the outstanding incidents of his life take place on that blazing white sand of La Jornada, including his eventual murder at age 65. The episodic story is strong together by Garrett's nightmares, during which he's visited time and again by the ghost of the 21-year-old Bonney. Vignettes include Sheriff Pat's tracking of his friend Bonney through territory after territory; Bonney's slaying; Pat's being hired to slaughter buffalo and later to protect the herds of a cattlemen's association; his fruitless tracking of the killers of Colonel Albert Fountain and his young son on La Jomada; his attempt to irrigate the dry land; and his meetings with Governor John Nance Garner and later with President Teddy Roosevelt. Style to bum, talk that haunts. Deserves blue ribbons and rosettes. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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  Book Jacket
 
1999 (Novel of the West)
The All-True Travels and Adventures of Liddie Newton
Book Jacket   Jane Smiley
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780375702235 Smiley (Moo, 1995, etc.) scales another peak with this bighearted and thoughtful picaresque novel set mostly in the Kansas Territory shortly before the Civil War. Narrator Lydia ``Lidie'' Harkness grows up in Quincy, Illinois, a tomboyish burden to her several older stepsisters, and leaps at the chance to marry Thomas Newton, a soft-spoken abolitionist who's bent on helping the ``free-staters'' dedicated to protecting Kansas against those who would make it a slave state. Missourians crossing the border wreak havoc on such hotbeds of abolitionist activity as Lawrence (near which the Newtons settle), and Thomas is soon one of many casualties. The ``disputacious'' Lidie?who'd become an even more ardent free-stater than her husband?thereafter sets off on an eastward journey seeking revenge and finding instead an unexpected empowerment. Her adventures while disguised as a boy (``Lyman Arquette''), reporting for a proslavery newspaper, and helping a woman escape a plantation are recounted with a zest and specificity that beg comparison with Mark Twain's portrayal of the immortal Huck Finn. Lidie is a splendid creation: a forthright, intelligent woman who recognizes, long before she can articulate it, the kinship of women relegated to submissive housewifery with people who are literally bought and sold?and who acts to change things. Surrounding her are such agreeable supporting characters as silver- tongued, slave-owning widower ``Papa'' Day, ``radical'' Louisa Bisket (who considers corsets symbolic of male tyranny), and the superbly unctuous David Graves, blithely unimpeded by loyalties of any variety (``My principle is to serve both sides, to have no sides, indeed, but to serve all!''). Not all of Smiley's obviously scrupulous research is transmitted successfully into story?Lidie does mull over political and social complexities a mite compulsively. Little else goes awry, though, in the richly entertaining saga of a woman who might have been well matched with Thomas Berger's ``Little Big Man,'' and whom Huck Finn would have been proud to claim as his big sister. (First printing of 200,000)
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780375702235 Smiley (Moo, 1995, etc.) scales another peak with this bighearted and thoughtful picaresque novel set mostly in the Kansas Territory shortly before the Civil War. Narrator Lydia ``Lidie'' Harkness grows up in Quincy, Illinois, a tomboyish burden to her several older stepsisters, and leaps at the chance to marry Thomas Newton, a soft-spoken abolitionist who's bent on helping the ``free-staters'' dedicated to protecting Kansas against those who would make it a slave state. Missourians crossing the border wreak havoc on such hotbeds of abolitionist activity as Lawrence (near which the Newtons settle), and Thomas is soon one of many casualties. The ``disputacious'' Lidie?who'd become an even more ardent free-stater than her husband?thereafter sets off on an eastward journey seeking revenge and finding instead an unexpected empowerment. Her adventures while disguised as a boy (``Lyman Arquette''), reporting for a proslavery newspaper, and helping a woman escape a plantation are recounted with a zest and specificity that beg comparison with Mark Twain's portrayal of the immortal Huck Finn. Lidie is a splendid creation: a forthright, intelligent woman who recognizes, long before she can articulate it, the kinship of women relegated to submissive housewifery with people who are literally bought and sold?and who acts to change things. Surrounding her are such agreeable supporting characters as silver- tongued, slave-owning widower ``Papa'' Day, ``radical'' Louisa Bisket (who considers corsets symbolic of male tyranny), and the superbly unctuous David Graves, blithely unimpeded by loyalties of any variety (``My principle is to serve both sides, to have no sides, indeed, but to serve all!''). Not all of Smiley's obviously scrupulous research is transmitted successfully into story?Lidie does mull over political and social complexities a mite compulsively. Little else goes awry, though, in the richly entertaining saga of a woman who might have been well matched with Thomas Berger's ``Little Big Man,'' and whom Huck Finn would have been proud to claim as his big sister. (First printing of 200,000)
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1999 (Best Juvenile)
Petey
Book Jacket   Ben Mikaelson
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780786804269 Born in 1920 with cerebral palsy and dismissed by ignorant doctors as feeble-minded, Petey Corbin spends all but the first two years of his long life institutionalized, his world barely larger than the walls of an asylum ward or, much later, nursing home. Within those walls, further imprisoned in an uncontrollable, atrophied body, he nonetheless experiences joy and love, sorrow, loss, and triumph as intensely as anyone on the outside. Able to communicate only with rudimentary sounds and facial expressions, he makes a series of friends through the years; as a very old man in a 1990s setting, he comes into contact with Trevor, a teenager who defends the old man against a trio of bullies, and remains a loyal companion through his final illness. This is actually two books in one, as with a midstream switch in point-of-view as the story becomes Trevor's, focusing on his inner growth as he overcomes his initial disgust to become Petey's friend. Mikaelsen portrays the places in which Petey is kept in (somewhat) less horrific terms than Kate Seago did in Matthew Unstrung (1998), and surrounds him with good-hearted people (even Petey's parents are drawn sympathetically?they are plunged into poverty during his first two years by the bills his care entails). There are no accusations here, and despite some overly sentimentalized passages, the message comes through that every being deserves care, respect, and a chance to make a difference. (Fiction. 11-13)
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Born in 1920 with cerebral palsy and dismissed by ignorant doctors as feeble-minded, Petey Corbin spends all but the first two years of his long life institutionalized, his world barely larger than the walls of an asylum ward or, much later, nursing home. Within those walls, further imprisoned in an uncontrollable, atrophied body, he nonetheless experiences joy and love, sorrow, loss, and triumph as intensely as anyone on the outside. Able to communicate only with rudimentary sounds and facial expressions, he makes a series of friends through the years; as a very old man in a 1990s setting, he comes into contact with Trevor, a teenager who defends the old man against a trio of bullies, and remains a loyal companion through his final illness. This is actually two books in one, as with a midstream switch in point-of-view as the story becomes Trevor's, focusing on his inner growth as he overcomes his initial disgust to become Petey's friend. Mikaelsen portrays the places in which Petey is kept in (somewhat) less horrific terms than Kate Seago did in Matthew Unstrung (1998), and surrounds him with good-hearted people (even Petey's parents are drawn sympathetically--they are plunged into poverty during his first two years by the bills his care entails). There are no accusations here, and despite some overly sentimentalized passages, the message comes through that every being deserves care, respect, and a chance to make a difference. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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1998 (Western Novel)
The Kiowa Verdict
 Cynthia Haseloff
  Book Jacket
1998 (Novel of the West)
Comanche Moon
 Larry McMurtry
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780684807546 McMurtry returns to reliable form in this follow-up to Dead Man's Walk (1995) that serves as a second prequel to his Texas epic Lonesome Dove (1985). As the great Comanche warrior Buffalo Hump slowly succumbs to weakness and old age, a younger generation both of Texans and Comanches rises to power. Buffalo Hump's son, Blue Duck, breaks away from his father to form a band of renegades who prefer the Texans' guns to the bow and arrow and their own whims to traditional ways. Events are set in motion by the theft of a great warhorse belonging to Harvard-educated adventurer and Texas ranger, Captain Inish Scull. The thief, a Comanche, resolves to undertake a mad display of heroism by presenting the animal to the Mexican warlord Ahumado (the ``Black Vaquero'') renowned for the creative methods of torture he visits on anyone foolish enough to cross him. Captain Scull, unhinged by the incident, sets off in pursuit and falls into Ahumado's hands. A brutal Comanche raid on Austin at the same time spurs the rise of two tough, bright, experienced young rangers: affable, whiskey- and whore-obsessed Augustus McCrae, who's nevertheless steadfast in his devotion to Clara Forsythe, an independent-minded shopkeeper who breaks his heart by marrying a more stable man; and dour, sensible, lethal Woodrow Call, who can't quite bring himself to acknowledge his illegitimate son or marry the sweet-natured prostitute with whom he has a longstanding relationship. The two battle-hardened friends sort out their troubles with women, tangle with the Comanches and Ahumado, and quietly become (reluctant) legends on the frontier. While the last third turns workmanlike in its efforts to set up the opening situation of Lonesome Dove, McMurtry nevertheless delivers a generally fine tableau of western life, full of imaginative exploits, convincing historical background, and characters who are alive. (Book-of-the-Month Club main selection/Literary Guild alternate selection/Quality Paperback Book Club selection)
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1998 (Best Juvenile)
Danger Along the Ohio
Book Jacket   Patricia Willis
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780395770443 A bracing work of historical fiction makes an unfriendly place of the Ohio riverfront as three children fight for their lives. In May 1793 the motherless Dunn family--Papa, Amos, Clara, and Jonathan--have almost completed their long trek from eastern Pennsylvania to the place where they hope to make a new life, the Ohio frontier. Amos, 13, is particularly anxious to start over; his memory of a terrible event and his subsequent guilt can be assuaged only in a new place. When the riverboat that is to carry the family to Marietta is ambushed by Indians, a terrible battle ensues, and in the confusion, the boat goes adrift, carrying the Dunn children down river. A second Indian attack causes them to abandon the boat and they land on the north shore of the Ohio River. Their only course is to walk to Marietta, following the river. Along the way, Amos spots a boy clinging to a floating log, and rescues him. He is an Indian boy, barely alive from a gunshot wound, and the children start to nurse him back to health. Still ahead for them: They are taken prisoner by a band of Shawnee, and need to reach Marietta, hoping to see their father again. Willis (Out of the Storm, 1995, etc.) has created a rousing adventure; it will have readers turning the pages and rooting for the spunky Dunn kids all the way. (Fiction. 9-12)
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780395770443 Fiction: I Amos and his siblings are separated from their father during an Indian attack as they travel the Ohio River in 1793. The survival story moves quickly, but sentimental subplots mixed with romanticized views of Native people weaken the tale: Amos befriends a Shawnee boy after saving his life, thinks that if kidnapped and adopted by the Indians he'll be able to forget a tragedy he caused, and finally finds peace with the help of a sage old Indian. Horn Rating: Marginal, seriously flawed, but with some redeeming quality. Reviewed by: jmb (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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1996 (Western Novel)
Blood of Texas
Book Jacket   Will Camp
 
1996 (Novel of the West)
Sierra
 Richard Wheeler
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780312861858 With varying results, two young men seek their fortunes in California after America's successful war against Mexico--in another solid historical from the prolific Wheeler (Cashbox, l994, etc.). When, in the spring of 1849, Ulysses McQueen (not yet 21) leaves his Iowa farm and pregnant wife Susannah to hunt for gold in faraway California, he endures a series of soul-testing hardships on the unsparing overland route to El Dorado. Robbed of his mules and gear by marauding Indians, menaced by brigands and disease, he still presses on. Meantime, Stephen Jarvis, an ex-Army officer, decides to try his luck on the West Coast. Hired as casual labor by Johann August Sutter, he's on site when gold is discovered near a sawmill being built by the Swiss émigré. Stephen soon strikes it rich and uses his new wealth to start retailing scarce tools and other goods to eager prospectors, yearning all the while for Rita Concepcion Estrada, a like-minded but well-born Mexican girl whose proud Catholic family wants no part of a Protestant Yanqui. As Stephen is making a name for himself among the merchant princes of Sacramento and San Francisco, Ulysses finally reaches California. Failing to hit pay dirt, he makes a deal for land in the San Joaquin Valley with Stephen, who's interested in developing local sources of fresh vegetables. Unbeknownst to Ulysses, Susannah has arrived in California by way of Panama (a journey that cost their infant daughter her life). The two finally find each other in 1851 and resolve to make a fresh start by returning to their agricultural roots. And at the 11th hour, Stephen's Latin ladylove kicks over the traces and that new pair sail off to make a new life for themselves in South America. Absorbing and eventful, replete with authoritative details on the mortal risks, primitive conditions, and sometimes rich rewards awaiting those who joined the gold rush to California.
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1996 (Best Juvenile)
Far North
 Will Hobbs
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780688141929 Stranded in an uninhabited area of Canada's Northwest Territories, two teenagers and an old Indian hunter face a winter so brutal residents call it ``The Hammer.'' Gabe, 15, has come to boarding school in Yellow Knife to be nearer his oilman father. When his taciturn Athapaskan roommate, Raymond, quits school to fly back to his village, Gabe goes along. A spur-of-the- moment trip to see spectacular Virginia Falls turns into disaster when plane and pilot are swept away. Gabe and Raymond are left with a small cache of survival gear, plus a third passenger, Raymond's great-uncle, Johnny Raven, to keep them alive. Johnny teaches his two charges rudimentary survival skills, then finds them an old cabin in which to hole up before he dies. Weeks and repeated brushes with death later, the destruction of their food supply by a grizzly bear forces them into a grueling trek to Raymond's home. Although Hobbs (Beardance, 1993, etc.) doesn't write with the immediacy or meticulous attention to detail that Gary Paulsen brings to Brian's Winter (1996) or its prequel, Hatchet (1987), he summons plenty of uncontrived danger for his characters to face both foolishly and heroically. The conflict between modern and traditional ways is pervasive, as Raymond, a misfit in both worlds, struggles to find out who he is. (Fiction. 10-13)
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780688141929 Fiction: O A routine sightseeing flight ends in disaster in the Northwest Territories, stranding fifteen-year-old Gabe; Raymond, an Athabaskan Indian from a remote village; and Raymond's ailing great-uncle, the only one of the trio with any real survival skills. What follows is a thrill-a-minute account of their struggle. Deeper issues are addressed, including the contrast between Gabe's culture and Raymond's, and between Raymond's and his uncle's cultures. Horn Rating: Superior, well above average. Reviewed by: mmb (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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