Honor roll: Western books

Each of these Western books has received at least one award nomination. They are ranked by honors received.

Book:Lonesome Dove

Lonesome Dove

Larry McMurtry

A love story, an adventure, an American epic, Lonesome Dove embraces all the West—legend and fact, heroes and outlaws, whores and ladies, Indians and settiers—in a novel that recreates the central American experience, the most enduring of our national myths.

Set in the late nineteenth century, Lonesome Dove is the story of a cattle drive from Texas to Montana—and much more. It is a drive that represents for everybody involved not only a daring, even a foolhardy, adventure, but a part of the American Dream—the attempt to carve out of the last remaining wilderness a new life.

Augustus McCrae and W. F. Call are former Texas Rangers, partners and friends who have shared hardship and danger together without ever quite understanding (or wanting to understand) each other’s deepest emotions. Gus is the romantic, a reluctant…[more]

Book:Holmes on the Range

Holmes on the Range: A Mystery

Steve Hockensmith

1893 is a tough year in Montana, and any job is a good job. When Big Red and Old Red Amlingmeyer sign on as ranch hands at the secretive Bar-VR cattle spread, they’re not expecting much more than hard work, bad pay, and a comfortable campfire around which they can enjoy their favorite pastime: scouring Harper’s Weekly for stories about the famous Sherlock Holmes. When another ranch hand turns up in an outhouse with a bullet in his brain, Old Red sees the perfect opportunity to put his Holmes-inspired detective talents to work and solve the case. Big Red, like it or not (and mostly he does not), is along for the wild ride in this clever, compelling, and completely one-of-a-kind mystery.

Book:A Sudden Country

A Sudden Country: A Novel

Karen Fisher

A vivid and revelatory novel based on actual events of the 1847 Oregon migration, A Sudden Country follows two characters of remarkable complexity and strength in a journey of survival and redemption.

James MacLaren, once a resourceful and ambitious Hudson’s Bay Company trader, has renounced his aspirations for a quiet family life in the Bitterroot wilderness. Yet his life is overturned in the winter of 1846, when his Nez Perce wife deserts him and his children die of smallpox. In the grip of a profound sorrow, MacLaren, whose home once spanned a continent, sets out to find his wife. But an act of secret vengeance changes his course, introducing him to a different wife and mother: Lucy Mitchell, journeying westward with her family.

Lucy, a remarried widow, careful mother, and reluctant emigrant, is drawn at once to the self-possessed MacLaren. Convinced…[more]

Book:The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life: A Novel

Hugh Nissenson

Eighteen months of the life of Thomas Keene, a fictitious 19th-century congregational minister, is traced in this journal-like novel. Having suffered a loss of faith, Keene abandons the East for frontier life in the Ohio wilderness. His account is by turns violent, tender, and erotic. Keene is both a witness to history, describing the many ordinary and horrific details of frontier life (including the conflict between white settlers and Indians), and a man searching for personal meaning in a world without God.

Like a true frontier journal, the novel includes illustrations attributed to Keene. As a foil to the main character, the historic figure John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, is portrayed as a believer who lives with self-doubt.

Book:In the Rogue Blood

In the Rogue Blood

James Carlos Blake

The offspring of a whore mother and a homicidal father, Edward and John Little are driven from their home in the Florida swamplands by a sching parent’s treacheries, and by a shameful, horrific act that will haunt their dreams for the rest of their days. Joining the swelling ranks of the rootless—wandering across an almost surreal bloodland populated by the sorrowfully lost and defiantly damned—two brothers are separated by death and circumstance in the lawless “Dixie City” of New Orelans, and dispatched by destiny to opposing sides in a fierce and desperate territorial struggled between Mexico and the United States. And a family bond tempered in hot blood is tested in the cruel, all-consuming fires of war and conscience.

With soaring and masterful prose, James Carlos Blake brings to life an enthralling historical time and place—and a cast of memorable characters—in a stunning tale of dark instinct, blood reckoning, and fates forged in the zeal of America’s “Manifest Destiny.”

Book:Fools Crow

Fools Crow

James Welch

The year is 1870, and Fool’s Crow, so called after he killed the chief of the Crows during a raid, has a vision at the annual Sun Dance ceremony. The young warrior sees the end of the Indian way of life and the choice that must be made: resistance or humiliating accommodation. “A major contibution to Native American literature”.—Wallace Stegner.

Book:Son of the Morning Star

Son of the Morning Star: Custer and The Little Bighorn

Evan S. Connell

Custer’s Last Stand is among the most enduring events in American history—more than one hundred years after the fact, books continue to be written and people continue to argue about even the most basic details surrounding the Little Bighorn. Evan S. Connell, whom Joyce Carol Oates has described as “one of our most interesting and intelligent American writers,” wrote what continues to be the most reliable—and compulsively readable—account of the subject. Connell makes good use of his meticulous research and novelist’s eye for the story and detail to re-vreate the heroism, foolishness, and savagery of this crucial chapter in the history of the West.

Book:Bendigo Shafter

Bendigo Shafter

Louis L'Amour

They came west inspired by the boldest American dream. Pioneers whose hands and hearts shaped the proud destiny of a nation. Seven men and thirteen women and children—strangers who shed their blood to build a community out of the Wyoming wilderness. And towering above them all was Bendigo Shafter, a giant of a man whose love and courage were the equal of the mighty land.

Book:A Book of Tongues

A Book of Tongues: Volume I of the Hexslinger Series

Gemma Files

Two years after the Civil War, Pinkerton agent Ed Morrow has gone undercover with one of the weird West’s most dangerous outlaw gangs-the troop led by “Reverend” Asher Rook, ex-Confederate chaplain turned “hexslinger,” and his notorious lieutenant (and lover) Chess Pargeter. Morrow’s task: get close enough to map the extent of Rook’s power, then bring that knowledge back to help Professor Joachim Asbury unlock the secrets of magic itself.

Magicians, cursed by their gift to a solitary and painful existence, have never been more than a footnote in history. But Rook, driven by desperation, has a plan to shatter the natural law that prevents hexes from cooperation, and change the face of the world-a plan sealed by an unholy marriage-oath with the goddess Ixchel, mother of all hanged men. To accomplish this, he must raise her bloodthirsty pantheon from its collective grave through sacrifice, destruction, and apotheosis. …[more]

Book:Lament for a Dead Cowboy

Lament for a Dead Cowboy: A Freddie O'Neal Mystery

Catherine Dain

Freddie and her boyfriend, Sam, attend a gathering of cowboy poets in Elko. While the cowboys and cowgirls are reciting their works, a new verse is added: murder. One of the cowboy poets is found dead, and Freddie’s current amour is the suspect. Suddenly she learns more about Sam’s past than she ever wanted to know.

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