cover image All Things Left Wild

All Things Left Wild

James Wade. Blackstone, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-9826-0105-8

Wade’s violent and transfixing debut follows teenage Caleb Bentley and his no-good older brother, Shelby, through the turn-of-the-20th-century southwest, where they are on the run after stealing horses and killing a young boy in the process. Caleb and Shelby are pursued by dandified rancher Randall Dawson, pushed by his wife into getting revenge for the death of their son, Henry. But Randall, a poet by inclination, is unsuited for such a mission of vengeance. Fortunately, he is helped by single-minded Charlotte Washington, a black woman who is good with a gun. They are joined by Henry’s ranch hand friend Tadpole and an orphaned youth they find in an abandoned town. The Bentley brothers reluctantly join the Lobos, a band of outlaws led by a charismatic but volatile ex-Ranger named Grimes, from whom Caleb tries to rescue a Mexican girl Grimes plans to marry. And with Charlotte, Randall finds love and a courage he never knew he possessed as the two groups converge on one another for a blood-soaked climax. The author takes a classic western setup and refreshes it with sharp writing, strong characterizations, a vivid evocation of place, and a body count to rival The Wild Bunch. Fans of All the Pretty Horses will want to saddle up for this literary ride. Agent: Mark Gottlieb, Trident Media Group. (June)