Synopses & Reviews
In his New York Times
notable debut, The Ice Harvest
, Scott Phillips gave readers an instant noir classic that spanned twenty-four eventful hours in the life of a mob lawyer hoping to skip town (namely Wichita) with a small fortune. Phillips followed with the acclaimed sequel, The Walkaway
, showing how a seeming windfall can wreak wicked havoc on the lives of its recipients. Now this award-winning author broadens his canvas, writing his most accomplished novel yet one that is rich in suspense, drama, historical sweep, and Phillips's unique blend of unforgettable characters.
In 1872, Cottonwood, Kansas, is a one-horse speck on the map; a community of run-down farms, dusty roads, and two-bit crooks. Self-educated saloon owner and photographer Bill Ogden looks on his adopted town with an eye to making a profit or getting out. His brains and ambition bring him to the attention of one Marc Leval, a wealthy Chicago developer with big plans for the small town. The advent of the railroad and rumors of a cattle trail turn Cottonwood into a wild and wooly boomtown and with Leval as a partner, Ogden dreams of bringing civilization to the prairie.
But civilizing the Great Plains was never that simple. While many in Cottonwood distrust Leval's motives, and mob violence threatens to derail the town's dreams of greatness, Ogden finds himself dangerously obsessed with Leval's stunningly beautiful wife. Meanwhile, plying its sinister trade unnoticed, an apparently ordinary local farm family quietly butchers traveling salesmen, weary travelers, and other unsuspecting wanderers.
In his own inimitable brand of narrative wizardry, Scott Phillips traces the metamorphosis of a frontier town that becomes a lightning rod for sin, corruption, and murder. He also brings to life actual crimes that befell Kansas in the 1870s and 1880s, carried out by a strange clan who popularly became known as The Bloody Benders. Brilliantly written, maliciously fun, and full of many surprises, Cottonwood is historical fiction at its finest.
"Western epic, black comedy and soft porn are cleverly spliced in this genre-bending offering....Lively pacing and artful prose lend polish to Phillips's cheerfully grotesque chronicle of western antics." Publishers Weekly
"Frontier Guignol....The blazingly original Phillips writes with deadpan humor and incisive irony. The story is shaggy, but its unique slant on the Old West is a major achievement." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"[T]he author's brand of sly humor and his skilled depictions of nasty human behavior translate well to the historical genre....Romance, intrigue, dueling pistols, and a Charles Willeford feel translated to the frontier a little something for everyone." Booklist
"If you want to look at it historically, as [Phillips] does with wit and gusto in Cottonwood, 'crime' is just a name for behaviors that fall out of social fashion." Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
"[A] historical drama every bit as compelling as...The Walkaway and The Ice Harvest....Cottonwood opens our imaginations to a long-gone world that's far more intriguing and frightening than any we could have imagined." Chicago Sun-Times
"Despite occasional patches of lurid grotesquerie, Phillips' vision adds up to an indelible portrait of a haunted town, as starkly delineated and unsparing as an antique tintype. (Grade: B+)" Entertainment Weekly
"Scott Phillips is dark, dangerous, and important. Cottonwood
is crime fiction at its best." Michael Connelly
is an adventurous, bawdy, and genre-bending epic. Scott Phillips cements his reputation as a fearless, ambitious writer who never makes a false move." George Pelecanos, author of Hard Revolution
"This is not the West of your daddy's Zane Gray....Though primarily a western, Cottonwood has a fine mystery subplot as well and should be pleasing to aficionados of both genres." BookReporter.com
"In a book that is as much history as mystery, Scott Phillips' Cottonwood makes the dirt streets and rough life of the Kansas prairie come alive." Kansas City Star
"[I]t's not Phillips' thoughtful, exciting plotting but rather his amazing ear for the sad sounds behind the words of his people that make his novels so exceptional." Chicago Tribune
The author of The Ice Harvest and The Walkaway returns with a novel set in 1870s and 1880s Kansas and California.
About the Author
Scott Phillips is the national bestselling author of The Walkaway and The Ice Harvest, which was a finalist for the Hammett Prize, the Edgar Award, and the Anthony Award. He was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas, and lived for many years in France. He now lives with his wife and daughter in St. Louis, Missouri. Visit the author's Web site at www.scottphillipsauthor.com.