The Life and Death of Strother Purcell

Ian Weir. Goose Lane (UTP, dist.), $22.95 trade paper (380p) ISBN 978-1-77310-029-6
The third novel from playwright and screenwriter Weir (Will Starling) is a remarkable, sprawling epic about myth, memory, and what may or may not be the truth in the making of legends. The tale begins in 1876, in the snowy mountains of British Columbia, where famed lawman Strother Purcell is last seen riding off into a blizzard, in pursuit of his outlaw brother, Lige. Sixteen years later, Barrington Weaver, a desperate writer of little renown, stumbles upon what might be the story of the century: Strother Purcell is alive in San Francisco—broken and ruined, but alive. As pieces of the story come together, readers discover the terrible reckonings wrought by the brothers’ feud, leaving any notion of righteousness and heroism lying in the dust. Purcell’s obsession with justice and revenge destroys the towering lawman, and even in the twilight of his days, one-eyed and crumpled, he is obliged to exact retribution owed, “down to the last copper penny.” This is an outstanding novel, alternately tragic and funny, grim and joyous, about spilled blood, shattered lives, and the redemptive power of both the smallest good deed and the grand selfless act. Agent: Samantha Haywood, Transatlantic. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/30/2018
Release date: 09/04/2018
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