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Lonesome Animalsby Bruce Holbert
Synopses & Reviews
"From the opening sentence of Holbert's remarkable debut, it is obvious that we are in the hands of a master storyteller. The time is Depression-era Washington State, the end of the frontier west still a living memory, and violence a frequent resolution to conflict. Former lawman Russell Strawl, himself no stranger to bloodshed, has been brought out of retirement to track a serial killer who has left a gruesome trail of murdered Indians, each ritualistically carved up. Strawl's investigative methods are often startling and brutal, yet effective, which have earned him respect and fear. Accompanied by his stepson, Elijah, a Salish Indian savant who quotes scripture constantly and fancies himself a prophet, Strawl relentlessly pursues his quarry. As the narrative proceeds, and the body count rises, more and more is revealed about Strawl's own turbulent past, which includes a fractured family and no shortage of madness and violence. Holbert's prose is simultaneously roughly hewn and elegant, and recalls Cormac McCarthy at his best, as do his insights into the relationship between predator and prey. Call it literary fiction, classic western realism, or historical noir, Holbert is a writer of formidable skill and this auspicious debut should have considerable crossover appeal. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In Lonesome Animals, Russell Strawl, a tormented former lawman, is called out of retirement to hunt a serial killer with a sense of the macabre who has been leaving elaborately carved bodies of Native Americans across three counties. As the pursuit ensues, Strawls own dark and violent history weaves itself into the hunt, shedding light on the remains of his broken family: one wife taken by the river, one by his own hand; an adopted Native American son who fancies himself a Catholic prophet; and a daughter, whose temerity and stoicism contrast against the romantic notions of how the west was won.
In the vein of True Grit and Blood Meridian, Lonesome Animals is a western novel reinvented, a detective story inverted for the west. It contemplates the nature of story and heroism in the face of a collapsing ethos not only of Native American culture, but also of the first wave of white men who, through the battle against the geography and its indigenous people, guaranteed their own destruction. But it is also about one mans urgent, elegiac search for justice amidst the craven acts committed on the edges of civilization.
About the Author
Bruce Holbert is a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. His work has appeared in The Iowa Review, Hotel Amerika, Other Voices, The Antioch Review, Crab Creek Review, The West Wind Review, and Cairn. Bruce Holbert grew up at the foot of the Okanogan Mountains. His great-grandfather was an Indian scout and among the first settlers of the Grand Coulee.
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