cover image Paradise Sky

Paradise Sky

Joe R. Lansdale. Little, Brown/Mulholland, $26 (416p) ISBN 978-0-316-32937-8

Edgar-winner Lansdale’s folksy, cinematic fictional memoir tells the story of a man who was born a slave before the Civil War but grew up to become the legendary Deadwood Dick. Willie Jackson is just running an errand in a nameless East Texas town when he happens to glimpse the back end of Sam Ruggert’s wife while she’s bending over a clothes basket in her yard. Sam sees Willie looking at her, and in short order, Willie gets “invited to a lynching” and chooses, as an alternative, to flee. He’s taken in by Tate Loving, who teaches him much about life, including the proficient use of firearms. When forced to flee again, Willie changes his name to Nat Love and heads west to join the Army at Fort McKavett. He and another former slave, Cullen, are the only survivors of an Apache ambush on their unit, after which the two decide to leave soldiering behind. Eventually, he and Collen make their way north to Deadwood, S.D. In Deadwood, Nat meets a beautiful young woman, saves the life of Wild Bill Hickok, and reencounters Sam Ruggert, who still has it in for him. Lansdale (The Thicket) fills his pages with true-hearted heroes, dastardly scoundrels, and rollicking adventures. Author tour. Agent: Danny Baror, Baror International. (June)